Respectful Insolence

Remember the SCIO? It was featured in Your Friday Dose of Woo two weeks ago. It’s an amazingly woo-ey piece of woo that was just perfect for my little weekly feature.

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates my having a little fun with it. For example, one of the woomeisters responsible for the SCIO has appeared on my blog to complain and defend Professor William Nelson, the luminary of woo who’s had a hand in not one, but two pieces of woo featured in YFDoW. This woomeister, who signed his comments “Dr. D,” is displeased and showed up in the comments to tell me so:

ill Nelson hasn’t yet won the Nobel Prize, but has been nominated the past 17 years for his work on energetic medicine and quantum theory.

I would love to have any of you actually try quantum biofeedback and then try to break out the quackometer.

I am sorry the language is a bit too technical for most of you, but quantum theory is not easily explained. Enjoy your narrow mindedness and the incessant joy and happiness this myopic attitude must bring to you and your families. Yours in Quantum health,
Dr. D


I don’t know if this is Bill Nelson himself or Gregory or Diane Damato, but it never ceases to amuse me to see defenders of woo use the “don’t knock woo until you’ve tried it” doggerel, with an insinuation of closed-mindedness and the claim that I’m too stupid or ignorant to “understand” the “quantumness” of this woo.

In the meantime, L. Vincent Poupard, he of the “there’ll never be a cure for cancer because it would be a disaster for the economy” conspiracy-mongering objects to my characterizing his rant as the ignorant conspiracy-mongering that it is.

Finally, we have someone named Dayana, who seems upset about my pointing out that having Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron argue that science proves the existence of God ought to be unintentionally hilarious and that the crank always has the advantage in such staged “debates.” Fortunately, Jesus forgives me and God will never reject me. At least that’s what Dayana says:

People just do not understand that we are nothing without God. God has always existed and He always will. He is the Alpha and the Omega and whoever does not believe in him is condemn for the eternity, because whoever does not have him is empty from the inside out. I just pray for He to have mercy on all those who dont believe in him and i just hope that when you realize that He Is God, is not too late. And how stupid is that when tragedies occur then is all of you who say and ask yourself in the deepest of your heart where is God and why he let this happend and why dont you ask yourself this… why you push him away from you?

(This was a straight cut-and-paste of an excerpt, by the way.)

Imagine my relief. Really, I don’t see how pointing out that Cameron and Comfort are idiots who wouldn’t understand good science if it bit them on the nether regions has anything to do with my going to hell. Heck, I bet there are some pretty devout Christians out there who think these two clowns are idiots and embarrassments to their religion.

The do appear to be coming out of the woodwork today.

Comments

  1. #1 Vince Hurtig
    May 11, 2007

    “Heck, I bet there are some pretty devout Christians out there who think these two clowns are idiots and embarrassments to their religion.”

    I consider myself a Christian and I couldn’t believe the level of woo in that clip. It was so bad I couldn’t even make it through the whole thing. An even worse one is the “peanut butter proof” for the existance of God. If all Christian apologists were that bad people like pz meyers should have an easy time of it.

  2. #2 Nobrainer
    May 11, 2007

    Is it really a good idea to compare an eternal being to an alphabet that has fixed starting and end points?

  3. #3 Nobrainer
    May 11, 2007

    Is it really a good idea to compare an eternal being to an alphabet that has fixed starting and end points?

  4. #4 Cain
    May 11, 2007

    Wow. They’re all great comments, but L. Vincent Poupard really takes the cake. Apparently, one can make any statement true by putting the word “Fact” in parenthesis at the end. Lemme try this…

    Cain is beloved by all women around the world (Fact).
    There is no man sexier or smarter than Cain (Fact).
    The sky is a greenish-purple hue (Fact).

    This is awesome! Let’s try one more:

    L. Vincent Poupard should really read xkcd more often (Fact).

  5. #5 Cain
    May 11, 2007

    Wow. They’re all great comments, but L. Vincent Poupard really takes the cake. Apparently, one can make any statement true by putting the word “Fact” in parenthesis at the end. Lemme try this…

    Cain is beloved by all women around the world (Fact).
    There is no man sexier or smarter than Cain (Fact).
    The sky is a greenish-purple hue (Fact).

    This is awesome! Let’s try one more:

    L. Vincent Poupard should really read xkcd more often (Fact).

  6. #6 Cain
    May 11, 2007

    Sorry for the double post, the site’s apparently going crazy at the moment.

    Since it didn’t work, here’s the xkcd link: http://xkcd.com/c258.html

  7. #7 Vince Hurtig
    May 11, 2007

    “Heck, I bet there are some pretty devout Christians out there who think these two clowns are idiots and embarrassments to their religion.”

    I consider myself a Christian and I couldn’t believe the level of woo in that clip. It was so bad I couldn’t even make it through the whole thing. An even worse one is the “peanut butter proof” for the existance of God. If all Christian apologists were that bad people like pz meyers should have an easy time of it.

    By the way, aren’t dessert bananas the end result of many years of human cultivation and breeding rather than being a “natural” fruit?

  8. #8 CCP
    May 11, 2007

    I wonder what Vince Hurtig’s opinion is.
    I wonder what Vince Hurtig’s opinion is.
    I wonder what Vince Hurtig’s opinion is.
    I wonder what Vince Hurtig’s opinion is.

  9. #9 Vince Hurtig
    May 11, 2007

    “Heck, I bet there are some pretty devout Christians out there who think these two clowns are idiots and embarrassments to their religion.”

    I consider myself a Christian and I couldn’t believe the level of woo in that clip. It was so bad I couldn’t even make it through the whole thing. An even worse one is the “peanut butter proof” for the existance of God. If all Christian apologists were that bad people like pz meyers should have an easy time of it.

    By the way, aren’t dessert bananas the end result of many years of human cultivation and breeding rather than being a “natural” fruit?

  10. #10 L. Vincent Poupard
    May 11, 2007

    I want to thank you for your continued efforts to run my name through the mud. I am very grateful for the extra attention that you are giving me.

    I hope that you realize that this continued pushing of the topic is making me that much more popular on the Internet, and is adding to my readership and viewership.

    When I wrote this article, it was mostly off of a request that I had been emailed that requested my point of view about how medical companies can impeede progress for personal gain. It would be wrong to say that large corporations have not been known for this in the past.

    I never believed that this article would have bene read by more then just the few people that initially showed the interest in it. Your continued efforts to try to appear superior have only led to increased success for me.

    Keep up the good work.

    L. Vincent Poupard

    Oh, by the way, the (Fact) statements were only a response to the article that questioned mine.

  11. #11 L. Vincent Poupard
    May 11, 2007

    I want to thank you for your continued efforts to run my name through the mud. I am very grateful for the extra attention that you are giving me.

    I hope that you realize that this continued pushing of the topic is making me that much more popular on the Internet, and is adding to my readership and viewership.

    When I wrote this article, it was mostly off of a request that I had been emailed that requested my point of view about how medical companies can impeede progress for personal gain. It would be wrong to say that large corporations have not been known for this in the past.

    I never believed that this article would have bene read by more then just the few people that initially showed the interest in it. Your continued efforts to try to appear superior have only led to increased success for me.

    Keep up the good work.

    L. Vincent Poupard

    Oh, by the way, the (Fact) statements were only a response to the article that questioned mine.

  12. #12 Narc
    May 11, 2007

    ill Nelson hasn’t yet won the Nobel Prize, but has been nominated the past 17 years for his work on energetic medicine and quantum theory.

    Funny, the Nobel committee doesn’t release the names of nominees for fifty years, and making an invitation is itself by invitation only. So I can’t help but wonder what form this “nomination” took.

    I am sorry the language is a bit too technical for most of you, but quantum theory is not easily explained.

    I guess it’s just too complicated for our feeble brains being all, you know, quantum-y and stuff.

  13. #13 DuWayne
    May 11, 2007

    Heck, I bet there are some pretty devout Christians out there who think these two clowns are idiots and embarrassments to their religion.

    Yup, I’m one of them. And you could add any of the commentators at World Nut Daily to the list. But then, as I happen to also accept evolutionary theory, many of them wouldn’t agree that I am a pretty devout Christian. In fact, the only response I got for the innocent question; “What is the theological basis for demanding that the secular world make concessions to the beliefs of Christians, whether in the work place, public schools or in secular law?” was that I am obviously not Christian. Most people just refused to respond or tell me to pray about my attitude.

  14. #14 factician
    May 11, 2007

    Mr. Poupard,

    You are correct. There is an overall economic incentive for cancer researchers not to cure cancer. Much like the overall incentive not to buy lottery tickets. However, you seem to be missing the lottery effect. That is, whoever cures cancer will be rich and famous beyond words. (That said, I highly doubt there will ever be *one* cure for cancer. Most cancers are too different from each other to all respond to one treatment, but who knows what the future may hold?).

    Even without the intellectual and moral dimensions to the question you propose, you miss the point that while there may be an overall economic incentive not to cure cancer, the lottery incentive should prove to be sufficient to propel us closer and closer to a cure.

  15. #15 Coin
    May 11, 2007

    I would love to have any of you actually try quantum biofeedback and then try to break out the quackometer.

    “Quantum biofeedback”. Is that what they’re calling it these days

  16. #16 L. Vincent Poupard
    May 11, 2007

    Factician – It is true that a person who was able to make it to the mainstream with a cure for cancer would become rich. This was not important to me. If I attempted to discuss that, I would then have to go into discussing theories of redistribution of wealth and trickle-down economics.

    Except for in the case of a few such as Bill Gates, one wealthy person does not effect society as a whole. Only if that person gives back a considerable amount of money to charity.

    Most welathy individuals write off so much on their taxes that it is almost worthless to state that they pay them at all. I am not rich, and I have more write offs then my accountant can believe.

    L. Vincent Poupard

  17. #17 Orac
    May 11, 2007

    I want to thank you for your continued efforts to run my name through the mud. I am very grateful for the extra attention that you are giving me.

    I hope that you realize that this continued pushing of the topic is making me that much more popular on the Internet, and is adding to my readership and viewership.

    How very odd that you equate criticizing your writing with “running your name through the mud.” Come now, if you didn’t want your name “run through the mud” (as you put it), then you really shouldn’t have written such an easily debunked bit of poorly argued conspiracy-mongering. Maybe I should interpret your showing up in the comments of my other post to continue your complaint with even more bad arguments. My good man, if you’re going to post in the blogophere or on the web, you really need to grow a thicker skin. My criticism was mild compared to what is said about me on a weekly basis.

    As has been pointed out to you before, any scientist who cured cancer would be a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize and likely to become as wealthy as Bill Gates in a matter of months. Any company that developed or marketed such a cure would instantly rake in profits hand over fist. Fame, glory, and profits are powerful incentives that you completely neglected.

    Besides, the very concept of a “cure” for cancer is scientifically highly unlikely. Cancer is not a single, monolithic disease. It’s hundreds of different diseases. Even if we talk only about the main subtypes, it’s dozens of diseases. Although different cancers share some molecular mechanisms that make them cancer, many demonstrate different molecular derangements that require different treatments. Different cancers respond to (or are resistant to) different treatments. It’s scientifically very dubious to speak of a “cure” for cancer. There may be a cure for a specific cancer, but it’s incredibly unlikely that there will be one cure for all cancer. That makes your argument that there will never be a “cure for cancer” even more specious. Only someone who really doesn’t know much about cancer talks about a “cure for cancer” in the manner you did.

    I do like the “nyah-nyah, you just increased my numbers!” kiss-off, though. All I can respond with was, “Glad to help.”

  18. #18 Mike Saelim
    May 11, 2007

    The easiest test to see if someone is actually using “quantum” anything is to watch their facial expression when you ask “so, can I see the math?” Physics, especially quantum mechanics, is so inseparable from math that calculus is invariably required even for the introductory courses.

  19. #19 Calli Arcale
    May 11, 2007

    “Fortunately, Jesus forgives me and God will never reject me. At least that’s what Dayana says:”

    The really interesting thing is that she goes on to indicate what looks like sincere doubt that God will accept you unless you realize the error of your ways. I’ve seen this quite commonly from fundamentalists — non-judgmental talk coupled with an astoundingly judgmental attitude.

    Paraphrasing Scripture: “I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” We must operate as if everyone is saved, no matter what; it is not our place as mortals to decide. Yet fundies generally show no compunction whatsoever about doing God’s job for Him and judging people. The one thing they can’t forgive under any circumstances is a person for some reason refusing to believe exactly as they do. Yet if they really paid attention to Scripture, they’d notice that there isn’t a distinction made saying that you only have to forgive *some* sins.

    They also seem to forget what could be the most terrifying thing in the entire New Testament: a simple line from the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. I sometimes feel that the intended meaning there is that we should be forgiven only as well as we forgive others. That’s kinda scary if you think about how lousy humans generally are at letting go of resentment.

  20. #20 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    May 11, 2007

    Bill Nelson hasn’t yet won the Nobel Prize, but has been nominated the past 17 years for his work on energetic medicine and quantum theory.

    I could believe this if it were the Ig Nobel Prize, which coincidentally has been in existence since 1991; i.e. The Iggy is in its 17th year.

  21. #21 Anna
    May 11, 2007

    “Except for in the case of a few such as Bill Gates, one wealthy person does not effect society as a whole. Only if that person gives back a considerable amount of money to charity.”

    Do you understand at all how wealth is created? A cure for cancer (assuming such a thing were a monolithic, single treatment for all types of cancer) would do much, much more than make its creator rich. It would create jobs for people to produce, distribute, market, sell, and monitor the use of the treatments. It would deepen our understanding of how our bodies work, allowing other scientists to broaden their work on other diseases and areas of research and generate more useful, potentially profitable tools. It would extend the productive lifespans of all the people it cured, allowing them to generate more wealth and support themselves and their families for longer, improving their finances and contributing to the health of the overall economy.

    Even if a person cured cancer out of a pure, selfish desire to make money, their actions would still constitute one of the greatest humanitarian acts of our generation, not to mention a huge boon to our economy. And they wouldn’t have to give a cent to charity in order to generate such economic benefits.

  22. #22 Cain
    May 11, 2007

    Do you understand at all how wealth is created?

    Anna, you know as well as I do that the answer to this is “no”.

    I am very grateful for the extra attention that you are giving me.

    I get the “no such thing as bad publicity” thing you’re trying to push here, but it really can’t be good for all that extra attention to people calling you an idiot. The “Michael Egnor” googlebomb raised his profile, but it certainly didn’t enhance his credibility.

  23. #23 DuWayne
    May 11, 2007

    Quantum stuff rocks. By the sounds of it you can put quantum in just about anything, from biofeedback to seatbelts to neo-homeathopy for the impudent. I wonder when they will come out with quantum energy enhanced foodstuffs. I think your friends at Life Technologies have really missed the boat on that one.

  24. #24 L. Vincent Poupard
    May 11, 2007

    It does not matter to me taht people question one of my articles since very few of my articles have anything to do with theories that I, or anyone else has. Most of my articles have to do with other things.

    If people question my credability for one article that does not have a connection to most of the rest of my articles, it does not bother me. I was posting my thoughts on a subject, and others did not agree with it.

    Throughout this entire ordeal, many of you have resorted to name calling, and attackes on my personal mental ability or character. Your basis has been a matter of paragraphs taht I have posted on line, and not by knowing my actual character.

    Orac, I can tell that you have attempted to keep from making personal attacks, and I respect you for that. I understand taht my views are not the same as yours, and you have attempted to make statements against my ideas and ideals, not against me as a person.

    For those of you who have made attacks against me as a person, I would have to say that I am sorry for you as people. Attacks like this were ones that most should have left behind in high school.

    It is my understanding that many of you are of the scientific community. I am disheartened to think that so many gret minds in our society could be hidden behind such childish acts.

    For those of you that have questioned my personal education level, I would like to inform you that I have degrees in both computer science, and business law. I have spent time working as a political and business consultant for two companies. I have also spent time as a research specialist for the Roman Catholic Church.

    L. Vincent Poupard

  25. #25 Alan Kellogg
    May 12, 2007

    Poupard,

    Specify what the degrees are in and where you got them.

  26. #26 Lucas McCarty
    May 12, 2007

    Hmm, if God is the Alpha and the Omega, what happened to the rest of the phonetic alphebet? He’s the A to the O, but not the P to the Z? They must be taken up by other religions.

    Vincent, read the motto of the blog: a statement of fact can not be insolent. For you to be personally attacked, a personal attack must be offered to you directly. Simply pointing out errors in what you say here and elsewhere does not come under this, if you take it personally it is still not a personal attack. Questions about your character and qualifications are not personal attacks when they are done in response to things you have written that simply don’t add up. You still manage to call this an ‘ordeal’ presumerably without sniggering. You’re hardly Galileo.

  27. #27 L. Vincent Poupard
    May 12, 2007

    As I mentioned before, I am disheartened by the fact that this is supposed to be a blog that is frequented by the scientific community. With the posts that many of you have made, it counters the education level that you must have achieved. If this is the way that the scientific community deals with a different perspective, then that is a sad statement on the future.

    As I previously stated, the article that I originally wrote was a statement to a question that was posed to me. It was answered with information that I had available, and through personal viewpoints and experience.

    I am happy that the article has caused for debate, but I am sorry to say that I have not enjoyed the way that the debate has gone. I do not appreciate that fact that so many of you question more then the article, that you are questioning my character.

    It has been brought out that I have an interest in conspiracies. While I do not believe most conspiracies, I have always enjoyed reading about them and discussing them.

    The writer of this blog states that he is interested in pseudohistory. Does that automatically make him someone who believes these cases of a possible alternate history? No.

    The cancer article was a sidetrack from my usual articles that deal mostly with news, movie history, and articles that deal with the business of writing. I thank all of you for causing me to become disinterested in pursuing articles such as the cancer article once again.

    Many of you will consider this to be a victory. That does not interest me at all. What does interest me is the fact that I will now be able to go back to doing the writing that I enjoy doing, and not simply making posts to someone’s blog.

    I thank the author of the blog for showing an interest in my article, and for making an attempt to open it up for ideological and scientific discussion. I have to take myself out of the discussion since it continues to follow on a path of arguing.

    Everyone should be reminded that the future is in the future. We will not know what would truly happen in a certain scenario for sure until that scenario has fully played out. It has been forgotten that one of the aspects of the article was displaying the theory as to what would happen if a cure for cancer were to be found.

    If I owned the rights to the article, I would have it taken down. Not due to a belief that I was wrong, but because of the fact that I would prefer to forget about the childish behavior that I have stumbled upon, and about the fear that this childish behavior fills the time of those in our society that are supposed to be trying to improve civilization.

    This will be the last posting that I make to this, or any other blog on this site. There is no reason why I should have to spend my day trying to read and answer attacks on my character, mental abilities, and overall reasoning.

    L. Vincent Poupard

  28. #28 Lucas McCarty
    May 12, 2007

    I still can’t find any ad hominem or personal attack on L.Vincent Poupard. Can someone help?

  29. #29 sophia8
    May 12, 2007

    Bill Nelson hasn’t yet won the Nobel Prize, but has been nominated the past 17 years for his work on energetic medicine and quantum theory.
    How does Dr D know that? Not only are the nomination lists kept secret for 50 years, but so are the lists of the people invited to nominate people. So anybody can claim they’ve been nominated for a Nobel Prize, and not get found out until they are either dead or too old to care.
    This whole “X was nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work on quantum doodah, so he’s a real scientist!” schtick is so over-used in woo circles. Where does he do his work; where was he trained; if he has a doctorate, what was it in and which body awarded it; has he actually published any work in a peer-reviewed publication – those are the sort of things I want to know about any “scientist” making such claims.

  30. #30 sophia8
    May 12, 2007

    Mike Saelim: The easiest test to see if someone is actually using “quantum” anything is to watch their facial expression when you ask “so, can I see the math?” Physics, especially quantum mechanics, is so inseparable from math that calculus is invariably required even for the introductory courses.
    To quote Tom Foss:

    “Have you ever normalized a wavefunction? Can you give me the three-dimensional Time-Dependent Schrödinger Equation? Perhaps you could give me the basic expression for momentum, using the complex conjugate of the wavefunction. Do you know what an eigenstate is? Do you have any idea what value is represented by < a | a >? These are some of the most basic exercises in quantum physics. If it looks like gibberish to you, then stop claiming you know something about quantum physics. “

  31. #31 Orac
    May 12, 2007

    I still can’t find any ad hominem or personal attack on L.Vincent Poupard. Can someone help?

    No. I can’t find one either.

  32. #32 Narc
    May 12, 2007

    No. I can’t find one either.

    I also notice that Mr. Poupard has made exactly zero attempts to counter the criticisms of his wild conspiracy theory. Rather, he has just made complaints about attacks on his person, which suggests he is attempting to cover for an inability to make his point.

  33. #33 khan
    May 12, 2007

    This whole “X was nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work on quantum doodah, so he’s a real scientist!” schtick is so over-used in woo circles.

    Right wing pundits who opine on the Terri Schiavo case almost always refer to a certain quack as ‘a man that was nominated for a Nobel Prize’.

  34. #34 Luna_the_cat
    May 12, 2007

    There were a couple of almost-ad-hominems against Mr. Poupard in the first thread — being called a “scumbaggery-shill” here, and the comment “Brain dead fiction;
    a new genre perhaps… I think I smell something rotting” by wanderingprimate a few below that. That’s all that I could find that I would have interpreted as direct insults.

  35. #35 trrll
    May 14, 2007

    Poupard:

    It is true that a person who was able to make it to the mainstream with a cure for cancer would become rich. This was not important to me. If I attempted to discuss that, I would then have to go into discussing theories of redistribution of wealth and trickle-down economics.

    Except for in the case of a few such as Bill Gates, one wealthy person does not effect society as a whole. Only if that person gives back a considerable amount of money to charity.

    Most welathy individuals write off so much on their taxes that it is almost worthless to state that they pay them at all. I am not rich, and I have more write offs then my accountant can believe.

    This is a ridiculous nonsequitur that I can’t help thinking that Poupard is being intentionally obtuse. The point being made was that it is next to impossible to keep anything secret when there is a huge economic incentive for an individual to reveal the secret–in this case a cure for cancer, even if such a cure was economically harmful to the nation or health care industry as a whole. It seems to me that this point has been made clearly by numerous people.

    Yet Poupard pretends (I hope) to misunderstand and to think that the argument being made is that the “trickle down” economic benefits of that one person getting wealthy would somehow economically balance the economic harm that Poupard imagines would ensue from the discovery of a cancer cure. I can’t help thinking this is merely an attempt to sidetrack the discussion rather than admitting that he cannot rebut the point being made, like his previous attempt to turn it into a debate on MKUltra. Of course, whether or not the benefits to the individual who discovers/reveals the cancer cure balance the supposed economic harm to the nation/industry is irrelevant. The question is, rather: why should an individual who stands to reap enormous personal benefits from revealing such a cure even care about the potential economic damage to other people? Even if it turns out to be the financial disaster that Poupard imagines, the cure would still be public.

    May 11:

    I hope that you realize that this continued pushing of the topic is making me that much more popular on the Internet, and is adding to my readership and viewership….I never believed that this article would have bene read by more then just the few people that initially showed the interest in it. Your continued efforts to try to appear superior have only led to increased success for me.

    May 12:

    I am happy that the article has caused for debate, but I am sorry to say that I have not enjoyed the way that the debate has gone. I do not appreciate that fact that so many of you question more then the article, that you are questioning my character….If I owned the rights to the article, I would have it taken down. Not due to a belief that I was wrong, but because of the fact that I would prefer to forget about the childish behavior that I have stumbled upon, and about the fear that this childish behavior fills the time of those in our society that are supposed to be trying to improve civilization….This will be the last posting that I make to this, or any other blog on this site. There is no reason why I should have to spend my day trying to read and answer attacks on my character, mental abilities, and overall reasoning.

    Wow, I think I’ve got whiplash. Does this set a record? From “Thanks to all of you for making me more successful” to “Waahh! I’m not having fun anymore, how dare you question my reasoning, I’m going to take my argument and go home!” in just one day?

  36. #36 CortxVortx
    May 14, 2007

    re: Lucas McCarty — Hmm, if God is the Alpha and the Omega, what happened to the rest of the phonetic alphebet? He’s the A to the O, but not the P to the Z? They must be taken up by other religions.

    P to the Z is at Pharyngula, doncha know.

    Word.

    — CV

  37. #37 Vince Hurtig
    May 15, 2007

    Just wanted to apologize for the multiple posts. I was getting the error mentioned in a later blog and really thought that my comment was not being posted.

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