Respectful Insolence

I’m sure that a lot of you, like me, are watching the rebooted version of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, with Neil deGrasse Tyson taking over the hosting duties originally handled so ably over 30 years ago by Carl Sagan. I definitely enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to additional episodes. The only thing that annoys me is that Cosmos is on at the same time as The Walking Dead, but that’s what DVRs were made for. The first episode, which is all I’ve seen thus far at this writing, was quite impressive, and the segment at the end in which Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about the time he met Carl Sagan when he was 17 served as a fitting “passing of the baton” to the next generation.

I had a few quibbles, of course, but they were just quibbles. The updating of the cosmic calendar was splendid, and it doesn’t appear that the series will pull any punches (at least not much) when it comes to religion-inspired pseudoscience.

That’s why what I saw yesterday almost ruined a computer screen and keyboard, as I was drinking my coffee when I came across it. I’m referring to an article published by everyone’s favorite quack with a vastly inflated sense of self-importance, Mike Adams, entitled Neil DeGrasse Tyson publicly endorses core philosophy of Natural News: Follow the evidence; question everything.

I’ll pause here to give you a chance to let your laughter die down. It’s certain to take anywhere from several seconds to several minutes, depending on how much you know about Mike Adams. The title is gut-bustingly funny enough, but what’s in the article goes beyond hilarious. It took me multiple attempts to get through this article; so if my writing is a bit choppy, please forgive me. I know I really shouldn’t take on a Mike Adams screed like this, particularly so soon after such depressingly serious and scientific topics. However, things have gotten a little surreal around here lately, so why not some Mike Adams? Besides, I can’t choose when Adams will produce a screed custom made for some not-so-Respectful Insolence. I could choose to ignore it, but there wasn’t anything else that caught my eye last night, so what the heck?

Adams, thus demonstrating his incredible hubris, proclaims himself to be a kindred spirit to not only Carl Sagan but to the host of the new Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson. That’s right. Mike is a scientist, too, dammit:

As a long-time fan of the sciences, I was thrilled to see the re-launch of the Cosmos series this past week, starring Neil DeGrasse Tyson as the host. I was an enthusiastic fan of the original 1980 Cosmos series starring Carl Sagan, and I grew up steeped in the study of the natural sciences.

Perhaps that’s why I was especially delighted to hear Neil DeGrasse Tyson announce — in the first few minutes of the new Cosmos series — “Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything.”

That is, of course, the core philosophy of Natural News. It has been the driving force behind this organization’s informed skepticism of mercury in vaccines, mercury in dentistry, fluoride in public water and the ecological safety of genetically engineered food crops. It turns out that if you really “follow the evidence wherever it leads,” as Tyson rightly encourages us to do, you inevitably come to find that much of what is promoted and propagandized as “scientific” in the modern world is actually based on distorted, corporate-funded anti-science profit agendas rather than genuine science.

Mike Adams might have grown up “steeped in the study of natural sciences” or not, but even if he did, it’s painfully obvious that none of it rubbed off on him, given his career today, particularly his utterly nonsensical rejection of scientific findings. Let’s just put it this way. Adams is antivaccine, regularly abuses dead celebrities as “examples” of medicine killing, and even rejects science itself as evil, something that leads inevitably to atrocities like the Holocaust. Meanwhile, no conspiracy theory is too crazy for Adams to embrace. Whatever science Mike Adams might have learned is long gone, subsumed in his pure denialism and embrace of every form of quackery known to humans. None of this stops him from proclaiming that he’s a real scientist, maaaaaan:

My work here at Natural News is steeped in cutting-edge science. Today, I run an atomic spectroscopy laboratory conducting elemental analysis as part of my food science research. The instrumentation here rivals that of many universities, and I personally conduct all the research myself, operating ICP-MS instrumentation and practicing high-level analytical chemistry.

So much so that:

Continuing in these scientific endeavors, I am in the process of authoring numerous scientific papers on breakthrough food science research, and I will soon be publishing truly pioneering information about heavy metals in popular herbal supplements. I’m also the first person to have announced the discovery and formulation of a dietary supplement formula which can selectively bind with radioactive cesium-137 isotopes in the gastrointestinal tract.

This ought to be good. I really, really hope that Adams submits his “scientific papers” to reputable journals. It will be hilarious to see his reaction to the real peer review process, something Neil deGrasse Tyson is well familiar with but Mike Adams is not. He thinks he knows, but he doesn’t. Of course, it’s quite possible that Adams will just self-publish and avoid the peer-review process altogether. In fact, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for Adams to get to his real purpose, namely a rant against vaccines. I’m half tempted to tell Mikey that he doesn’t help the case he’s making to Neil deGrasse Tyson that he’s a real scientist and that he isn’t antivaccine by repeating antivaccine tropes about mercury in vaccines and then running with them. Proclaiming that he has run into pro-vaccine zealots who are “no less anti-scientific than some of the more bizarre ‘voodoo science’ detox supplement proponents,” Adams launches into a long tirade about mercury in vaccines:

As such, in much the same way that Galileo fought against the faith-based dogma of the Church and its heliocentric mythology of the universe, today Natural News fights against dangerous dogmas and false “scientific” delusions perpetrated under the distorted label of “science.” If you really follow the evidence on mercury in vaccines, for example, there is no scientifically justifiable rationale for injecting pregnant women with mercury at any dose. Yet this action is precisely what is currently — and aggressively — demanded by the “scientific” community, in what history will ultimately be forced to admit is a great betrayal of the People by delusional science conducted primarily in the interests of corporate power rather than public health.

Adams is, of course, referring to the thimerosal preservative in vaccines, which contains mercury, and the general recommendation that pregnant women receive the flu vaccine during flu season. Of course, the concept that mercury in vaccines causes autism is a long-discredited hypothesis. There is no good evidence that mercury in vaccines at the dose used causes any harm at all. The worse reactions are pretty much local skin irritation. There’s a reason why it’s recommended that pregnant women receive the flu vaccine, and that’s because the flu can hit them especially bad.

Similarly, there is no evidence that mercury-containing amalgams used in dental fillings is dangerous. It’s been used for a long time, and has an excellent safety record. It’s inexpensive, and versatile, and substitutes are more expensive and don’t have the same long track record of safety. Yet Adams spends paragraphs ranting about amalgams, using in essence an argument from incredulity that says that because Adams can’t conceive of how mercury in different forms could be safe, as in amalgams, or how mercury at low enough doses can also be safe. The concept of how elements can behave differently depending upon the chemical compounds with which they’re compounded is alien to Adams. To him, heavy metals are always toxic, no matter how low the dose.

Indeed, Adams completely destroyed my irony meter:

The very nature of the table of elements, in fact, supports my position of mercury-free medicine, meaning I do not even have to be “right” myself because I have the full power of the laws of physics and chemistry to back me up. For some misguided scientist to claim that “mercury is harmless” is no less foolish than a person following “The Secret” to sit in a room and wish for material wealth to magically appear simply because they believe the so-called “Law of Attraction” will bring them whatever material items they choose to focus upon. Both beliefs are purely delusional. One is steeped in “science” and the other in distortions of popularized (but distorted) New Age thinking. Yet they are both false. Mercury is harmful to human biology at almost any dose — even at just a few micrograms injected into the tissue of a child — and there is no rational basis from which to argue otherwise.

Except that Adams doesn’t have the “full power of the laws of physics and chemistry” to back him up, not just because he isn’t a scientist, but because he’s demonstrated time and time again that he has no understanding of science. In fact, his history demonstrates that not only is he not a scientist but he has a long history of exhibiting extreme hostility to science. Indeed, he even demonstrates that hostility to science in this very post:

And it is an undeniable scientific truth that every scientist who today promotes mercury in vaccines and mercury in dentistry is also a quack. I state this undeniable truth with the same confidence and courage that Copernicus once exhibited as he wrote that the Earth orbited the sun and not the other way around. Even if the entire modern “scientific” community attempts to claim that mercury is harmless when injected into pregnant women, they remain wholly wrong despite their numbers, and their distortions contradict physical and biological reality. Just as much as the Church was wrong to imprison early astronomers, modern-day “science” is wrong to promote the injection of pregnant women and children with mercury.

“Undeniable truth”? Scientists don’t speak of “truth.” They speak of hypotheses and theories that can be supported by evidence. How did Copernicus come to the conclusion that the earth orbited the sun? He was willing to look at the evidence and, as Adams himself put it, follow it where it leads. Similarly, the way we know that the amount of mercury in thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is safe is because of science. True, arguably 80 years ago when thimerosal was first used as preservative in vaccines, there probably wasn’t the science to show that it was safe. However, eight decades, particularly studies done during the last two of them, have failed to find any link between mercury in vaccines and significant harmful effects. That’s science. No evidence of harm of the type claimed by Adams and the “toxic teeth” fear mongerers has been found linked to amalgams.

No, Adams is the one holding on to blind belief, unable to accept that mercury in vaccines at the doses used is not dangerous simply because he can’t conceive that it could be so. That’s as antiscience as it gets. In case you don’t believe me, I’ll conclude by reminding you of this Adams’ The God Within:

Watch again, if you can stand it.

Comments

  1. #1 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2014

    a person following “The Secret” to sit in a room and wish for material wealth to magically appear simply because they believe the so-called “Law of Attraction” will bring them whatever material items they choose to focus upon. Both beliefs are purely delusional. One is steeped in “science” and the other in distortions of popularized (but distorted) New Age thinking.

    Was Mikey once a fervid exponent of The Secret and the ‘Law of Attraction’? Google says ‘Yes’.

    there’s growing interest in finding ways to maximize results while using the power of intention and Law of Attraction. Few people really know one of the most important secrets to making “The Secret” work: Establishing the right nutrition and dietary habits that clear your nervous system and allow intention to flow. In this article, I’ll share some of the best nutritional secrets about The Secret

  2. #2 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2014

    no less foolish than a person following “The Secret” to sit in a room and wish for material wealth to magically appear simply because they believe the so-called “Law of Attraction” will bring them whatever material items they choose to focus upon. Both beliefs are purely delusional [...] distortions of popularized (but distorted) New Age thinking.

    Was Mikey once a keen exponent of ‘The Secret’ and the ‘Law of Attraction’? Google says ‘Yes’.

    there’s growing interest in finding ways to maximize results while using the power of intention and Law of Attraction. Few people really know one of the most important secrets to making “The Secret” work: Establishing the right nutrition and dietary habits that clear your nervous system and allow intention to flow. In this article, I’ll share some of the best nutritional secrets about The Secret

  3. #3 Narad
    March 17, 2014

    The only thing that annoys me is that Cosmos is on at the same time as The Walking Dead, but that’s what DVRs were made for.

    Having just sat through the latest installment of As the Dead Turns, you didn’t miss much. On the other hand, Peter Woit’s commentariat found a bit more to be annoyed at wrt the first episode of New Cosmos.

  4. #4 Chris Hickie
    March 17, 2014

    I do not even have to be “right” myself because I have the full power of the laws of physics and chemistry to back me up.

    This has to be one of the best examples (yet) of Adams taking nonsense and raising it to the power of stupid.

  5. #5 StrangerInAStrangeLand
    March 17, 2014

    I think that Orac is right in thinking that Adams’ groundbreaking scientific results will be published in one of the numerous open-access journals that are thrown on the market by predatory publishers. It’s unfortunately the dark side of the open access movement that plenty of shady businessmen are offering to publish every crap as long as the authors are paying. The quacks of course love this because now they can claim legitimacy for their views as they were published in a “scientific journal” and therefore must be true and equally valid as something you find in any other journal.

    But on the plus side we can at least look forward to read more wacky fun from Mr. Adams when he publishes his amazing “science” this way. Even with the flaws that the peer-review system sometimes has, I doubt that he would ever make it into a real scientific journal with his stuff. Unless of course Nature starts to include funny pages.

  6. #6 The Smith of Lie
    March 17, 2014

    As such, in much the same way that Galileo fought against the faith-based dogma of the Church and its heliocentric mythology of the universe

    So, does this mean Mike belives Galileo was supporting geocentric model? And here I was thinking, that the Galileo Gambit is enough of cliche to be beyond such level of fail.

  7. #7 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2014

    the faith-based dogma of the Church and its heliocentric mythology of the universe
    Oh my. Even a double facepalm is not enough.

  8. #8 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    March 17, 2014

    @The Smith of Lie: oh my word, I missed that on the first read through! LOL!

  9. #9 Helianthus
    March 17, 2014

    I state this undeniable truth with the same confidence and courage that Copernicus once exhibited

    I knew Copernicus.
    Copernicus was a friend of mine.
    You, sir, are no Copernicus.

    (with credits to MoB)

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson publicly endorses core philosophy of Natural News: Follow the evidence; question everything.

    FTFY.

    (S)CAM artists: jumping on the bandwagon of science and singing off-key they were the first at it whenever convenient.

  10. #10 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    March 17, 2014

    @StrangerInAStrangeLand:

    Unless of course Nature starts to include funny pages.

    You never know. Even quite serious journals sometimes put out April Fool’s Day issues. ;)

  11. #11 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2014

    the same confidence and courage that Copernicus once exhibited

    I.e. cautious diffidence to the extent of sitting on his manuscript for decades?

  12. #12 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    March 17, 2014

    I would pay cold hard cash to see Neil deGrasse Tyson put the smackdown on Mike Adams.

    I would sell a kidney and probably a third of my liver to see such a thing.

  13. #13 palindrom
    March 17, 2014

    Adams and his very expensive toys are a perfect example of Feynman’s phenomenon of “cargo cult science”. He’s got real equipment, but given the operator they might as well be bamboo mock-ups.

    Inronically, antiscience cranks in the global warming field love to selectively quote Feynman when he points out, as Tyson does, that scientists question everything. They say this as if it automatically invalidates every painstakingly arrived-at conclusion of normal science.

  14. #14 Fergus Glencross
    March 17, 2014

    “My work here at Natural News is steeped in cutting-edge science. Today, I run an atomic spectroscopy laboratory conducting elemental analysis as part of my food science research. The instrumentation here rivals that of many universities, and I personally conduct all the research myself, operating ICP-MS instrumentation and practicing high-level analytical chemistry. ”

    Is this a joke? What degrees did he take, which subjects.

    He actually sounds like he may have psychiatric problems.

  15. #15 Lawrence
    March 17, 2014

    @Fergus – if you read a selection of his previous material, you wouldn’t even have to wonder….there is definitely something “off” with him.

  16. #16 Renate
    March 17, 2014

    Skeptisism is so often abused. Anti-vaccinants call themselves skeptics too. “Don’t believe everything that is told”, they say and they refer to sites that are the Dutch equivalents of whale.to, or natural news, or worse. Sites like wanttoknow and niburu. It is like trying to win an argument about the form of the earth, by referring to the Flat Earth society.

  17. #17 Dangerous Bacon
    March 17, 2014

    “As a long-time fan of the sciences…”.

    That’s like calling Lee Harvey Oswald a long-time fan of the Presidency.

  18. #18 Kathy
    March 17, 2014

    “Follow the evidence; question everything”. Sure they question everything but the other half of the quote is forgotten, to follow the evidence. Instead these nunus decide on an endpoint and then cherry-pick or outright invent evidence to follow that will lead to that endpoint. Some people live in a calender where it is always 1st April.

  19. #19 ann
    March 17, 2014

    He’ll self-publish in Natural News.

    Mike Adams would not bestow anything bearing the Mike Adams brand on a venue the profits of which might go to strangers. Come on.

  20. #20 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    As if that wasn’t bad enough….
    he continues today ( ” Common Core math education..”).

    Mikey believes that “mathematical mental illness” is rampant : government debt gone mad and “mentally ill victims of mercury of mercury in vaccines” ( i.e. us) abound, attacking sane parents trying to protect their children form the ravages of vacinne-induced psychopathology.

    He ventures that the new math curriculum is “designed” to drive students stark raving mad. And he, who does ” PhD-level work in analytical chemistry” and computer code, just doesn’t get it.

    (Oddly, the problems don’t seem so terrible to me. They’re trying to get students to understand proportions across different types of graphic representation. That’s all. )

    Then he says something that perhaps hints at his “core beliefs”: a verbal problem includes a character with a Spanish/ Hispanic name, “Juanita”. Mike re-phrases the question substituting kids’ art supply examples ( ” bags of stickers”) with “bags of cocaine”.

    He has a history: when he speaks about gang takeovers of readers’ homes and endless disparaging comments about a particular black man who lives in a white house.

    Interestingly enough, the other idiot ( @ PRN) has been ranting- and writing- of late about how “psychopath” ( and sociopaths) have taken over government, industry, education, corporations etc.

    Do these wankers see mental illness everywhere they look? Or, as the Christians say, do they merely see the mote in others’ eyes and not the beam in their own?

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    Pardonnez the typos, svp, I just can’t seem to see striaght. Must be the antihistamines/ decongestants.
    Or maybe it’s just spring in the air or suchlike.

  22. #22 nutrition prof
    March 17, 2014

    Whatever happened to all the earth shattering, ground breaking discoveries he was going to release (slowly) so we would be able to handle them?

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    @ nutrition prof:

    Oh those were released over the past 2 months or so- the results of is “PhD level work” in his “atomic spectroscopy lab”. Where’ve you been?

  24. #24 Mu
    March 17, 2014

    Archaeology is the search for fact … not truth. If it’s truth you’re interested in, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    On a more serious note, that’s what he’s trying to do:
    get his readers to take his word over scientific consensus, so he has to build up the cargo cult. In this, he mimics one of his role models, Gary Null.

    Both have created story lines about being scientists who are so spectacularly cutting-edge that they have razor burn.

    The basic elements of the story go like this:
    they each showed remarkable ability at a young age and achieved in many fields ( see Health Ranger bio/ Null’s you tube video-bios, various rants). They were advanced students in science and later chose to work in nutrition, doing research over many years. Whilst on this mission to save humanity, they came across many sordid factoids about how Corrupt Science ™ REALLY functions and its ties to governmental, corporate and media abusers.

    OBVIOUSLY speaking and writing publicly about Malfeasance in High Places ( and I’m not talking about the Denver airport) put them on hit lists by the malfeasants who would besmirch their respective pristine images in order to steer the sheeple away from the Truth.

    THUS neither ever achieved the true level of fame to which he was truly entitled.

    UNTIL now, when Paradigm Shift finally rolls around and they each are recognised for their mind-shattering contributions to Science, Art and Humanity.

    Remember that loyal followers listen to or read their nonsense repeatedly over a long period of time: if you read comments or hear phoned in questions, you’ll find that not only are their pathetically impoverished ideas learned and regurgitated but their floridly histrionic language is repeated as well.

  26. #26 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    March 17, 2014

    @Nutrition prof

    He’s probably still trying to figure out how to use his ICP-MS, and how to account for ion interference.

  27. #27 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    March 17, 2014

    Oh, I am so glad I hadn’t picked my drink up yet when I read that. I seriously would’ve been making apologies to the IT department for having spewed Mountain Dew all over my keyboard. That was funnier than I expected. :-D

    I, too, would pay dearly to see Neil deGrasse Tyson deliver the skeptical beatdown to Mike Adams. I suppose the only thing that would be funnier would be if Adams decided at this point to come out in favor of Pluto as a major planet. :-P

    The current issue of Smithsonian has a great article about the new Sagan archive, which was donated by Seth McFarland, who bought it from Sagan’s widow (who is also his co-collaborator in producing the new “Cosmos” series). It includes quotes from the many letters sent to Sagan by cranks, which he politely marked “F/C”, for Fractured Ceramic. I’m not sure Tyson can be as politic towards the cranks as Sagan was; he tended to treat them with respect even as he refused to accept their propositions, though I think the craziest ones he just ignored.

    So how will Tyson react to this? Being an Internet-savvy fellow, he may be aware of Mike Adams’ newfound admiration for him. But then, medicine isn’t his thing, so he may not notice a quack idolizing him unless that quack starts expounding on astrophysics. But we shall see. I would love to see his reaction. ;-)

  28. #28 Justin Waugh
    March 17, 2014

    Great article, but for the part where you say scientists don’t speak of truth. The point and spirit of your argument is good, but I think the choice of words is poor. Of course they talk about truth. It’s just that they are truths based on scientific evidence, not on a gut feeling. Since you were talking about Tyson, lets look at a few of his quotes:

    “Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

    or

    “Every great scientific truth goes through three phases: first, people deny it. Second, they say it conflicts with the Bible. Third, they say they’ve known it all along.”

    I think even in the episode last night he called evolution a scientific fact, which is equivalent to truth. There comes a point when the evidence is so strong that a hypothesis can be regarded as a scientific truth.

  29. #29 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    @ Calli:

    I would guess that if deGrasse Tyson ever even comes across Mike’s “challenge” he would be tipped off immediately by the question *itself* about mercury and medicine being incompatible.

  30. #30 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    Braving the takatalvi in Finland
    March 17, 2014

    “He’s probably still trying to figure out how to use his ICP-MS, and how to account for ion interference.”

    No. He’s probably still trying to figure out how to wipe his own arse.

  31. #31 Orac
    March 17, 2014

    @Justin: I hate that fake Schopenhauer quote (he almost certainly never said it) with a bloody passion:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/02/11/a-proposal-anti-schopenhauer-response/

    Also note that deGrasse Tyson is addressing a popular audience and is therefore simplifying. I would disagree with him on the choice of that word in favor of the word “fact” or something like it (and he did use the word “fact” to describe evolution in the second episode). You almost never see scientists discussing “truths” amongst themselves.

  32. #32 Dangerous Bacon
    March 17, 2014

    “He’ll self-publish in Natural News.”

    The ideal situation for Adams would be to start his own open-access journal (that is, open to bold paradigm-shifters like Mike and his pack of “citizen journalists”). He could call it the Journal Of Real Uncorrupted Science, Proceedings of the Natural News Academy of Toxin Research or Mass Spectroscopic Delusions.

    I’m sure many of his illustrious colleagues would happily volunteer for peer review.

  33. #33 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    March 17, 2014

    Denise — oh, I’m sure he would, I’m just wondering whether he’s even likely to encounter Adams’ claims unless someone brings it to his attention. I know about Adams because I have a fascination with the weird, which most definitely includes quackery. I don’t know whether Tyson shares that fascination, and if he doesn’t, he may never have heard of Natural News. (In which case, perhaps he’s fortunate!)

  34. #34 palindrom
    March 17, 2014

    DB @ 32 — Well, there’s always Medical Hypotheses.

  35. #35 lsm
    March 17, 2014

    @27: “He may not notice a quack idolizing him unless he starts expounding on astrophysics”.

    Such Mikey’s Mindbending Theory #2, The Stargate Explanation (about the disappearance of the Malaysian jet), in which he postulates that:

    “A teleportation portal of some kind exists in the skies, through which the plane inadvertantly flew”. http://www.naturalnews.com/044260_Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_370_supernatural_explanations.html

    Even Mikey admits this is unlikely, but demonstrates how his brilliant mind is always open to quantum theory and such.

  36. #36 Matt Carey
    March 17, 2014

    I know I’m in the minority, but I never really liked Carl Sagan’s approach. His presentation is very slow.

    As to Mr. Adams having the money to buy a piece of lab equipment–dang, that’s an expensive toy. It’s nice that they are made so that pretty much anyone can run one these days. If he bought a formula one car it wouldn’t make him a good race car driver. I.e., I’m not really impressed that he’s made himself a lab technician to a non-scientist (himself).

  37. #37 Richard Smith
    March 17, 2014

    I’m sure that Neil deGrasse Tyson would agree with Mike that Mercury is bad for your health. I mean, how long could anyone actually live there?

  38. #38 Sastra
    March 17, 2014

    No, I think Mike Adams should just cut to the chase and put out “Significant Mainstream Peer-Review Science Journal.” Then he can insist with no fear of contradiction that his studies came out in a “Significant Mainstream Peer-Review Science Journal.”

    Then he could cosplay being an editor like he cosplays being a lab scientist. The first one, you get to smoke a pipe and wear tweed.

  39. #39 Frosty
    United States
    March 17, 2014

    When I am on my deathbed with only a few minutes left to live, I will lament the 23 minutes spent watching The God Within video.

  40. #40 Eric Lund
    March 17, 2014

    As a long-time fan of the sciences

    [snip]

    My work here at Natural News is steeped in cutting-edge science.

    [snip]

    it is an undeniable scientific truth

    You keep using that word, Mike. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  41. #41 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    @ Sastra:

    Sure. But what would be in that pipe?

    @ Eric Lund:

    Notice that he says “steeped” a few times.
    Steeped in science, is he?

  42. #42 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    March 17, 2014

    @Denice Walter

    Mike Adams is like a tea bag.

  43. #43 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 17, 2014

    Helianthus – I appreciate the shout out. However, I merely paraphrase Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.

    I like Ronald Reagan’s version. “This fellow they’ve nominated claims he’s the new Thomas Jefferson. Well, let me tell you something. I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine. And governor, you’re no Thomas Jefferson.”

  44. #44 JGC
    March 17, 2014

    Well, he’s some kind of bag but I thought the name started with a “d”…

  45. #45 EpiPete
    Neck deep in R
    March 17, 2014

    DB @32 – Scientific Highlights In Toxin Research

  46. #46 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    @ Todd W.:
    Being likened to a tea bag is so much kinder than being compared to the proverbial sack of hammers or rocks.

  47. #47 Johanna
    March 17, 2014

    I prefer an ooooold line from Foghorn Leghorn: “About as sharp as a sack of wet mice.”

  48. #48 Eric Lund
    March 17, 2014

    Denice @41: Whatever he’s being steeped in, it sure isn’t water.

  49. #49 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2014

    “My work here at Natural News is steeped in cutting-edge science. Today, I run an atomic spectroscopy laboratory conducting elemental analysis as part of my food science research. The instrumentation here rivals that of many universities, and I personally conduct all the research myself, operating ICP-MS instrumentation and practicing high-level analytical chemistry. ”

    From his fondness for first-person pronouns, I imagine that the Evidence speaks to Mikey, and it does so in his voice

  50. #50 lilady
    March 17, 2014

    Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s classic putdown of Senator Dan Quayle during the Vice Presidential debate….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-7gpgXNWYI

  51. #51 palindrom
    March 17, 2014

    I remember hearing once about a company that was putting out fortune cookies with sarcastic wiseacre remarks in them instead of the usual cliches and pleasantries. The best of them said simply: “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”

  52. #52 JustaTech
    March 17, 2014

    Denice @20: How is math supposed to drive students “mad”? I mean, unless it is non-Eucledian geometry from the minds of the great Old Ones who lie dead and dreaming. Ia!

    I will grant that being asked to visiualize a point on 5-dimensional hypercube can make you feel like your brain just skipped a gear, but I doubt that’s on the Common Core.

  53. #53 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    @ JustaTech:

    I suspect that it wouldn’t take much to drive Mikey mad as the trip there rather short. Right next door.

    Actually if he’s so *fabulously* gifted in science I can’t imagine why kiddie math problems would be so disabling for him.
    And sure, “fabulously* ( as in “fable”) is probably the correct term concerning his alleged gifts.

  54. #54 Narad
    March 17, 2014

    How is math supposed to drive students “mad”?

    As I’ve noted before, “Everyday Mathematics” appears to be designed to do pretty much that, as well as parents (see, you’re doing it wrong, because you don’t understand the swirling and the metaswirling). At least it doesn’t try to burden anyone with such trivialities as long division.

  55. #55 Narad
    March 17, 2014

    ^ “as well as to parents”

  56. #56 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2014

    How is math supposed to drive students “mad”?

    You don’t *have* to be insane to be a mathematician. It’s more of a guideline than a binding obligation.

  57. #57 LW
    March 17, 2014

    “It’s so simple, so very simple, that only a child can do it.”

  58. #58 ann
    March 17, 2014

    He has a history: when he speaks about gang takeovers of readers’ homes and endless disparaging comments about a particular black man who lives in a white house.

    Interestingly enough, the other idiot ( @ PRN) has been ranting- and writing- of late about how “psychopath” ( and sociopaths) have taken over government, industry, education, corporations etc.

    Do these wankers see mental illness everywhere they look? Or, as the Christians say, do they merely see the mote in others’ eyes and not the beam in their own?

    It’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” playbook.

    (http://harpers.org/archive/1964/11/the-paranoid-style-in-american-politics/)

    He’s very John-Birch-y, in most ways. They might seem like strange bedfellows. But Mike Adams probably isn’t that many degrees of separation from the Kochs. They have some mutual interests.

  59. #59 ann
    March 17, 2014

    The ideal situation for Adams would be to start his own open-access journal (that is, open to bold paradigm-shifters like Mike and his pack of “citizen journalists”). He could call it the Journal Of Real Uncorrupted Science, Proceedings of the Natural News Academy of Toxin Research or Mass Spectroscopic Delusions.

    I’m sure many of his illustrious colleagues would happily volunteer for peer review.

    Maybe. But he seems more like a businessman than a dreamer to me.

    I tried to look into the NN business set-up once, but almost immediately ran into the complete dead end that’s presumably one of the perks of incorporating in Taiwan.

    Before he was Mike Adams, Health Ranger, he was Mike Adams, Spamware King, though. Lest we forget. And to me, that suggests a market-oriented mind.

  60. #60 whooke
    Australia
    March 17, 2014

    Well that’s 23 minutes I’ll never get back.

  61. #61 viggen
    March 17, 2014

    “Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything”

    “Undeniable truth”? Scientists don’t speak of “truth.” They speak of hypotheses and theories that can be supported by evidence.

    I totally agree with what you’re saying, but I think there should be a disclaimer here too. Scientists talk about truth all the time in that it’s not always self-evident how particular theories and hypotheses should be interpreted. There is a “right way” to interpret the ideas of quantum mechanics or evolution, for instance. Pointing out the limits of what a particular theory says is demonstrating the truth about a given theory in that the truth must also accommodate the limits of our certainty about a particular model. These cranks lie all the time by fudging the hell out of the interpretation.

    I mention this disclaimer because it’s essential in understanding when it’s okay to “question everything.” If scientists literally questioned everything all the time, we would be wasting our careers reinventing provenance, and nobody has time to do that. If somebody can’t even get the fundamentals of what we actually say correct, they are in no position to question anything and are still grappling with scientific truths… like where most creationists are trying to fight with evolution –their problems aren’t with where we are right now, their problems are with issues that were well settled a long time ago. Somebody who hops in “questioning everything” without bothering to understand what’s still “questionable” is instantly announcing themselves as a crank to the entire world. We should be honest about how accurately the current scientific models reflect the truth about our world… which is to say very accurately and precisely in many cases (so as to be indistinguishable from the truth). For all intents and purposes, the scientific mainstream presents a model that is an absolute truth from the perspective of the layman. That’s why Adams hates us so much: he can’t questioning anything at a level where the model is still “in flux” enough for his take to be meaningful.

    Scientists should be talking “truth” all the time if only to defend our subjects from these people who would simply steal our language to sound like us, without ever actually doing the work to speak at our level. Scientists are the best sources of truth about science that there is. We should be sharing that truth!

  62. #62 Sawyer
    March 17, 2014

    Wait wait wait – how in the hell did Mike Adams pay for an ICP MS? I can see a microscope, some wet chemistry supplies, maybe an oscilloscope – but a good mass spectrometer? That’s tens of thousands of dollars down the drain. Mike is either so delusional that he really believed this was a smart use of his own money, or he managed to find a very senile and wealthy donor.

  63. #63 Narad
    March 17, 2014

    Wait wait wait – how in the hell did Mike Adams pay for an ICP MS?

    There’s been speculation that he might be renting a suite in an incubator lab. For that matter, I suppose he might just be leasing the pricy equipment. Seems like it would make reasonable business sense.

  64. #64 lurker
    March 17, 2014

    Heh, this one nearly cost me a keyboard too. Especially the part about ‘the church’s heliocentric mythology.’

    If someone’s in a mischievously funny mood and has a spare email address to burn, you could try emailing Mikey to let him know about his little ‘typographical error’ where he ‘really meant to say “geocentric”,’ and then tell him he’ll find a sympathetic ear at such-and-such journal if he marks his submission ‘attention (name)’ where ‘name’ is someone you know at that particular journal, who’s also in the mood for some comedy.

    Too bad entries are already closed for April Fools’ Day this year, but your pal at the journal can always send Mikey letters congratulating him on his breathtakingly important work. Also let him know his paper is getting extra-special Attention (capital ‘A’) from some Big Names (capital ‘B,’ capital ‘N’), and he’ll be published ‘ahead of our normal schedule,’ in about a year. Much humour & merriment will ensue.

    Re. the health of his beautiful mind: I was thinking ‘narcissistic’, but Denice @ 25 might be right about ‘histrionic,’ though I think ‘artistic’ or ‘theatrical’ would be stretching things a bit.

    Lastly, who can I talk to around here about getting paid by Big Pharma? I’ve tried to contact their PR people and gotten nowhere. I’m beginning to think this ‘paid shill’ stuff is a joke or something.

  65. #65 Spectator
    March 17, 2014

    @Sawyer #62

    You may underestimate a few things about Mike’s line of business
    i) the sales volume
    ii) the huge margins
    The various supplements can be bought in bulk, often from China, and in any case are never tested. If x ingredient actually costs money, the house can blend 10% X and 90% something-that-looks-like-X.

    Look up Kevin Trudeau, he was up to about $200M in net worth. That took quite a haircut, as was too cheap to rent some lawyers and Congresspeople before the need arose and is now housed in a relatively pleasant, secure facility at your expense.
    He’ll probably start to miss paying landscapers and pool maintenance in a year or two.

  66. #66 Narad
    March 17, 2014

    That took quite a haircut, as was too cheap to rent some lawyers and Congresspeople before the need arose and is now housed in a relatively pleasant, secure facility at your expense.

    Dude, you left out the payload: he was sentenced today.

  67. #67 Denice Walter
    March 17, 2014

    There’s the possibility that Mikey may indeed, be rolling in dough**:
    - he sold his spamware company
    - he sells supplements and superfoods
    - he sells organic foods for mail order
    - he sells survivalist supplles
    - he sells e-book, film and upgraded web TV shows
    - he sells ad space
    - he used to be involved with Ecuadorian land
    - he sold MLM supplements ( Omega 3 green lipped mussels, other products)

    I haven’t ever been able to find annual sales figures for his various companies.

    -btw- he wrote that be got some of his lab equipment used from university surplus websites at low cost.

    ** most likely gluten-free

  68. #68 palindrom
    March 17, 2014

    Narad @66 — Wow!

    I guess “They” had him locked up because “They” really don’t want you to know about what he’s selling,

    Or, maybe he’s just a lowlife slimeball who’s been cheating people out of millions of dollars.

    Gosh! How to tell?

  69. #69 ann
    March 17, 2014

    He and Mr. Adams share an ex-religion, IIRC.

  70. #70 Shay
    March 17, 2014

    In other cheery news, Fred Phelps is dying. AND he’s been excommunicated by his own church.

    What a study that place would make for a psychologist.

  71. #71 Dorit Reiss
    March 18, 2014

    Shay, more information re Phelps, please? I teach Snyder v. Phelps in torts and admit to being very curious. Not just because of that.

  72. #72 The Smith of Lie
    March 18, 2014

    LW @ 57, you made my day.

    Also, since the quacks have such penchant for questioning everything, maybe some brave soul should endevour to make them question gravity? It surely is lie made up by Big Shoe Soles to keep us grounded and make them their filthy lucre by selling shoe soles that get used up by walking. Mike and his ilk should demonstrate the lie by the way of simple experiment. Namely, jumping from great height.

  73. #73 janerella
    March 18, 2014

    #62 @ Sawyer @ Narad – I reckon someone’s just sold him a machine that goes “bing!”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wshyX6Hw52I

  74. #74 Lurker
    March 18, 2014

    Shay & Dorit @ 70 & 71:

    I saw the article about Phelps. Problem is, it used too many pronouns so it was not clear whether Phelps or his son had been excommunicated.

    Years ago there was a lengthy account published online by Phelps’ estranged son (may be the same son or a different one, he had plenty of ‘em) of the son’s experience growing up in the Phelps household, describing the son’s experience of chronic extreme child beating by Phelps. Warning: that account contains extensive graphic descriptions of child abuse and should not be read by anyone who has PTSD or other sensitivities to graphically violent material.

    That account described three details that to my mind are diagnostic. One, at an earlier point in his life, Phelps was active in supporting the Civil Rights Movement in support of African Americans’ rights: a politically liberal or progressive cause. Two, Phelps sustained repeated head injuries or concussions whilst engaged in the sport of boxing, prior to his transformation into the patron saint of hatred. Three, the son repeatedly noticed that Phelps appeared to go into a trance-like state when engaged in delivering brutal beatings to himself and his other children. The son’s descriptions of the trance-like state are practically textbook examples.

    To my mind that adds up to a strong case for psychomotor epilepsy: head injuries, followed by personality transformation and trance-like behaviour. However, even if my layperson’s remote-diagnosis is correct, it does not relieve Phelps of the moral responsibility for what he did and what he set in motion. Further, it does not overcome the fact that Phelps was a manifest danger to his own family members during that time, and should have been permanently confined to prison to protect others from his violent acts.

    That said, regardless of any possible diagnosis or other causality, the correct adjective for describing Phelps is _evil_, and the correct noun is _monster_. Distilled essence of evil, even if the evil was motivated by an underlying physical pathology. If he had attained any position of real power in a society without adequate safeguards, it is quite clear he was capable of unleashing mass murder. Thankfully he never had that opportunity.

    And yes, I shall rejoice when that evil monster drops dead, and despite my agnosticism about whether consciousness persists after the cessation of brain activity, I hope that he goes directly to a most literal fundamentalist hell and roasts for eternity, whilst a throng of protesters at his funeral raise up sufficient noise to give his flock an overdose of their own foulness.

  75. #75 Lurker
    March 18, 2014

    Point of clarification: the item about Phelps earlier engagement in the Civil Rights Movement is intended to demonstrate that at one time in his life, he was well within the range of normal attitudes and behaviours. Subsequently came the head injuries and then came the personality transformation and the trance-like brutal beatings of his own children.

    Had he not practiced the sport of boxing he would not have suffered head injuries, and so he might have continued to lead a normal life, or if he turned toward the political right wing, at least would not have become an archetypal example of a total devotee of hatred.

  76. #76 Mrs Grimble
    March 18, 2014

    I’m also the first person to have announced the discovery and formulation of a dietary supplement formula which can selectively bind with radioactive cesium-137 isotopes in the gastrointestinal tract.

    I’d love to know exactly how he developed and tested this!
    This is aimed at all his followers who have been told that the Fukishima disaster has contaminated the entire Pacific area, including parts of the coastal US, making everything grown or fished there unsafe to eat.
    It’s true that there’s serious Caesium-137 contamination in the plant’s immediate area, but it hasn’t spread any further. Furthermore, there’s already an effective binding/chelation treatment for caesium exposure – it’s Prussian Blue, developed in the 18thC as a dye and artists’ paint colour. I rather suspect that it’s the main ingredient in Mikey’s “herbal” concoction.

  77. #77 Mrs Grimble
    March 18, 2014

    Lurker @74. That’s Nathan Phelps who escaped from the cult at 18. The Wiki article has links to his accounts of growing up in the Church.
    Your theory about Fred Phelps suffering brain damage makes sense to me – I believe he was also addicted to prescription drugs as well.

  78. #78 Arctic Snowbird
    March 18, 2014

    Yeah, the article I read about Phelps says he is currently in assisted care, but they won’t reveal where (I wonder why). It also said that Freddie was excommunicated from the church last year, and that he and his wife were moved out of the church proper (apparently they were living in the church).

    However, keep in mind that the above his hearsay from his estranged son. I’m not certain how true it is.

  79. #79 Denice Walter
    March 18, 2014

    @ Mrs Grimble:

    I believe that he might have mentioned something about a marine protein in his soon-to-be launched dietary supplement. for radiation.

    For an idea of how he may market his *ground-breaking discovery*, see today’s article in which he discusses foods that block mercury- including strawberries, chlorella, spirulina et al- and then links directly to his ‘store’ where you can buy them.

  80. #80 LW
    March 18, 2014

    @Denice Walter, “Oddly, the [Common Core] problems don’t seem so terrible to me. They’re trying to get students to understand proportions across different types of graphic representation. That’s all.”

    Putting aside Mikey’s comments, you really should take a look at the “Juanita and the bags of stickers” problem. It’s #15 here:

    http://gcsdblogs.org/johnson_sue/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/5-1.pdf

    It reads, 

    Juanita wants to give bags of stickers to her friends.  She wants to give the same number of stickers to each friend.  She’s not sure if she needs 4 bags or 6 bags of stickers. How many stickers could she buy so there are no stickers left over?

    If I were a teacher and forced to ask that question, I’d make it an essay question: how many do you think, and why?

    My answer would be zero; since we don’t know how many friends there are, the only way to ensure none left over is not to buy any. 

    Another answer would be: 12 bags, because this question is in a batch of questions about Least Common Multiple, so I recognize it as “what is the LCM of 4 and 6?” despite the incompetence of the question writer. Of course, even that answer is wrong because the question asks “How many stickers”, not “How many bags”, so you can’t literally answer without knowing the number of stickers per bag. 

    It really is a nonsensical question, and I can certainly understand a conscientious child being reduced to tears struggling with that kind of question. 

  81. #81 Denice Walter
    March 18, 2014

    @ LW:

    I am assuming that these examples are supposed to lead to classroom discussion.

    I was actually educated with a method that started out with rote learning and then quickly transformed into a more theoretical approach to mathematics in grammar school- lots of Venn diagramming, estimation for everyday usage and pre-algebra/ geometry. So I may see things a bit differently.

  82. #82 Calli Arcale
    March 18, 2014

    I like questions like that one — IF they are properly formed, which that one is not. I like the puzzle-solving aspect. What I despise is how my daughter’s math problems are like that, but broken down to a ridiculous extreme. A hypothetical problem would go something like this:

    Susie has five friends and three pizzas. She wants to cut the pizzas so everybody gets the same number of slices. How many slices will everybody get?
    1. What is this problem asking you to figure out?
    2. Use words, numbers, or labeled sketches to explain how you will solve the problem.
    3. Diagram how the pizzas shall be cut.
    4. Solve the problem, showing all your work with words, numbers, or labeled sketches.
    5. CHALLENGE: What if Susie had seven friends?

    It’s meant to be a fraction/least common denominator problem, of course, but my daughter quickly realized the most straightforward solution was to cut each pizza into the same number of slices as there are people and voila, everybody gets three pieces. What was insane was having to explain every bit of that multiple times — and the teacher is supposed to mark you down if you don’t use complete sentences, even for #1 which basically is “repeat the sentence immediately above this one”. I mean, it takes a simple, decent problem and then makes it really annoying by piling on work that has very little to do with solving the problem. And a lot of it is redundant. It’s very annoying.

  83. #83 LW
    March 18, 2014

    @Denice Walter, that is question #15 of “Chapter 5 Test”. I can assuredly see it giving rise to discussion, but that is not its intended purpose

  84. #84 Renate
    March 18, 2014

    Question 15 defenitly is missing some key information.

    In the Netherlands someone came with some other weird example. “If boiling one egg takes 5 minutes, how much time would boiling 6 eggs take.” The answer 5 minutes was considered wrong. It had to be 30 minutes.

  85. #85 Johanna
    March 18, 2014

    @LW

    If that question (Juanita and the stickers) came up on a test at my place* the editors would have punted it back to the writer with an order to fix it. Yowch, that’s a stinker.

    * among many other education materials, my employer creates standardized tests for various school districts.

  86. #86 palindrom
    March 18, 2014

    Feynman had a priceless example of asking for the “total temperature” of a bunch of stars, or something like that. The kids were supposed to add up the given temperatures, and the temperature they found was the temperature of precisely nothing.

  87. #87 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 18, 2014

    The sticker bag question is actually a subtle introduction to algebra and set theory. Data is deliberately left out to allow the student to come up with the answer in the form of an equation, solvable when the unknowns are filled in. In particular, data needed includes:
    - the number of friends Juanita has
    - the number of stickers per bag
    - each friend’s sticker requirements: examples
    – Ron will tease Paul mercilessly if Paul gets any pink stickers.
    – Drama will ensue if both Phyllis and Mai get the same unicorn sticker
    – Ann is very competitive and wants stickers that exceed all others by surface area, and mass.
    – Lee Ann believes that relentless drive to make stickers is destroying the rain forest and that the adhesive contains toxins which cause autism.
    – Bob has a short attention span and will lose his stickers almost immediately – which allows Juanita to plan to re-gift those.
    – Andrew will only accept cruelty free stickers and will cry if he receives a torn sticker that looks like any sort of animal.

    I think LW’s answer of 0 is the correct one.

  88. #88 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 18, 2014

    Re the boiled egg question – the correct answer would be that it depends on the amount of water in the pot and the size of the pot. If the pot is only large enough to hold 1 egg, then 30 minutes would be correct. If the pot can hold all 6 at once and there is sufficient water, then the answer would likely be slightly more than 5 minutes. This would be a good differential equations question.

  89. #89 Scottynuke
    March 18, 2014

    Warning — Pedant Alert

    @MrsGrimble — Actually, Cs-137 levels in the Pacific are still domainted by what’s left from atmospheric weapons testing. The Fukushima contamination is only detectable through the Cs-134 isotope, which decays away much more quickly. And while Woods Hole and Canadian researchers have seen minute quantities of Cs-134 approaching the west coast of North America, all the available evidence suggests whatever “reaches the beach” will be at levels too low to provide an appreciable dose.

    The folks over at Deep Sea News have covered the scaremongering quite effectively — http://deepseanews.com/

    TL;DR — Mikey’s not even wrong (as usual). :)

    end Pedant Alert

  90. #90 squirrelelite
    March 18, 2014

    A few thoughts on the Common Core Curriculum.
    Most of the examples given sound like ill-posed problems. There is insufficient information to derive an answer.
    I found a Kansas state math exam from about 100 years ago posted online. It had a question, “How many bags of hay can you carry on a wagon?”
    I couldn’t answer the question because I didn’t know how much a bag of hay weighed or what the capacity of a wagon was. The answer could have depended on volume instead of weight, also.
    About 5 or 6 years ago, I spent a lot of time setting up the Everyday Math software on computers for elementary school students and sometimes helping students who were having trouble with the program. I didn’t look at a lot of problems, but didn’t notice anything particularly weird about the problem formulations.
    My main gripe with the testing was that there was so much of it that it diverted too much time from real teaching. There were tests at the beginning of the year to establish the students’ baseline. (They couldn’t just carry over the results from the end of the previous year.) Then the state and the federal government had separate tests in the spring. These tests required a few days for each student to complete. And the normal computer lab schedule was disrupted for a couple weeks to get all the classes scheduled in. So, it seemed like massive overkill for the benefit achieved.
    But, it was probably necessary to provide accountability and track a student’s real progress.
    An illustrative anecdote:
    In the mid 90′s, I attended a conference with the teacher about my daughter’s progress during the year. I was shocked to learn that the grades were bogus because the teacher told the students the answers and had them enter them and that was what was being graded. The “idea” was to reinforce the correct answer so that it was what the student would remember.
    I asked when they would start testing to see what the student really knew and was told “not that year and not next year either”.
    As cheating on the NCLB exams shows, that sort of attitude may be widespread.
    We need a system that appropriately measures and rewards progress with difficult and gifted students and, more importantly, graduates more students with the skills to succeed in our modern, high-tech economy.
    But finding that system is a major puzzle.

  91. #91 squirrelelite
    March 18, 2014

    Oops, it should have been wheat, not hay :(

  92. #92 delta-orion
    March 18, 2014

    Calli, that problem breakdown looks a little bit like something out of a Lindamood-Bell math program that I’ve used occasionally. The intent, obviously, is to make every step explicit, and it’s a fantastic approach for kids with language-based learning difficulties (I’m a speech therapist). Like you say, though, for a regular classroom, it’s a bit much. (And oh, it drives me crazy when kids lose points for not writing down their answer in the form of a full sentence with correct spelling… this is math class, not English!)

  93. #93 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 18, 2014

    I’m reminded of Cheech and Chong:
    “How many joints are in a lid.”
    “Two. I roll big joints.”
    “Our judges say, that’s OK, they roll big joints too!”

  94. #94 Calli Arcale
    March 18, 2014

    One more thought on Common Core — the horrible homework snippets floating around the Internet shouldn’t really be seen as an indictment of Common Core, because it misses a crucial point — Common Core does not actually mandate a particular curriculum. It mandates a set of standards, and how a particular district implements that is up to them (and probably also their state board of education). The dreadful homework examples come from commercially prepared curricula that are being sold as compatible with Common Core. And guess what? The companies that sold the horrible curricula were selling horrible curricula before too. Often the *same* horrible curricula. So while the right is having fun blaming all of this on Obama, this is by no means a new problem. The homework I described above from my daughter’s school has been in use there for years, introduced during No Child Left Behind, but not because of NCLB; it came about during a statewide education initiative that, perhaps unsurprisingly, was championed by politicians with business degrees who thought that gave them education expertise. They ended up picking something that was fashionably novel, reasoning that clearly their predecessors hadn’t known what they were doing but because they were Successful Businessmen, they would know what they were doing and they would get it right.

    Alas.

  95. #95 Johanna
    March 18, 2014

    Folks who want to know more about Common Core and how it’s being implemented in *some* states might find this site of interest.

    https://www.parcconline.org/about-parcc

  96. #96 Vicki
    March 18, 2014

    In a previous job, I was proofreading a math practice book, and checking that the answers in the teacher’s edition were correct, so I had to work the problems. The section I’m thinking of was supposed to be testing some simple algebra, of the
    (4x)(x-2)=20, solve for x
    sort. But rather than just put the equations there, they had them phrased as word problems, in this case the dimensions of a rectangle, given that sort of formula for the area.

    So, I solved for x, got the same answer as in the answer key, and then plugged x back into the original problem. Whereupon I realized that the problem described a rectangle one of whose sides was a negative number. I sent that back for a rewrite, with a note explaining the problem that was as polite as I could manage.

  97. #97 Mrs Grimble
    March 18, 2014

    Scottynuke @89: I know quite a lot about the Fukishima disaster – I have a son-in-law who works in the nuclear industry and he regularly explodes all over Facebook whenever somebody forwards one of these idiotic “Fukishima is killing off all the fishes!11!!” stories to him. (I have suggested to him that he start up a “Bad Nuclear Science” blog to counter the misinformation about radiation – he’s giving it some thought.)
    Just reading the comments to some of these scare stories is scary, though – lots of people appear to think that radiation is somehow creeping up out of the sea and oozing inland, contaminating everything along the US Pacific coast.
    One poster even reported that since the disaster, she had been seeing loads more dew on her lawn. No, I don’t know either….

  98. #98 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 18, 2014

    Perhaps radioactive creatures from the id are rising from the oceans, roaming the countryside, and depositing dew?

  99. #99 Mrs Grimble
    March 18, 2014

    Denice @79:

    For an idea of how he may market his *ground-breaking discovery*, see today’s article in which he discusses foods that block mercury- including strawberries, chlorella, spirulina et al- and then links directly to his ‘store’ where you can buy them.

    Don’t strawberries contain oxalic acid – a toxin that causes kidney damage and even death?? Moreover, it’s used in bleach, anti-rust products and metal cleaners! Mikey is peddling POISON!111!!

  100. #100 Lurker
    March 18, 2014

    Practical solution:

    Set up a private organisation with adequate funding. Offer cash prizes to children who spot egregious errors in test questions. Publish the results as ‘name and shame’ awards to the companies that produced the tests. Deliver the awards in-person to the companies’ offices, with lots of fanfare, and take video of the deliveries. Get plenty of publicity to embarrass the companies who inflict this sort of shoddy work on children.

    —-

    The ‘stickers’ question is practically educational malpractice. It’s internally contradictory because it uses the words ‘bags’ and ‘stickers’ interchangeably and has two unknowns: quantity of friends and quantity of stickers per bag. Thus it’s completely meaningless along the lines of ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’

    As for bales of hay, those were originally of a standard size and weight that most farm kids knew from experience, but the size and weight-carrying capacity of wagons varied widely and was not stated. The question is isomorphic with ‘how many people can sit on a train?’ and thus also meaningless.

    However there is a point to the ‘Suzie and the pizzas’ question. That is to train kids to fill out forms with repetitious data. That is most assuredly a high-demand job skill in today’s economy, and also required to obtain employment in many places. Personally I would rather stack hay bales on a wagon.

    The examples from the Netherlands and from Feynman are so bad as to fall into the category ‘if this is real life, who needs fiction?’

    Ultimately what’s needed are lawsuits and legislation to force these companies to use peer review and testing of each test question, and to put the worst offenders out of business as educational quacks.

  101. #101 herr doktor bimler
    March 18, 2014

    Perhaps radioactive creatures from the id are rising from the oceans, roaming the countryside, and depositing dew?

    I know that movie:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Big_Heat_%281967_film%29

  102. #102 Denice Walter
    March 18, 2014

    @ Mrs Grimble:

    Mike would probably have a remedy for the kidney stones caused by the megadoses of oxalic acid in his fried dried organic strawberries.
    “Try my new GMO-free, organic, ultra- concentrated juice of lemon; a cup or two daily is all you need for dissolving those annoying kidney stones”
    In other words: win-win.

    -btw- the idiots I survey have made such a ruckus over Fukushima, they’d have you believe that undiluted radiation is literally washing ashore** in California making fishes ( and those who ingest them) GLOW in the dark.

    Trust me, it isn’t. I was there last year and nothing glows in the dark. Now those gigantic, lounging sea lions and their bebes hauling out on the shore barking and *glowing* would be quite a sight to behold.

    ** over 6000 miles

  103. #103 Denice Walter
    March 18, 2014

    FREEZE dried that is.

  104. #104 Militant Agnostic
    March 18, 2014

    @DW

    fried or freeze dried – either way doing that to strawberries is an abomination and a crime against nature.

  105. #105 Denice Walter
    March 18, 2014

    @ Militant Agnostic:

    It is freeze dried. I know, Ugh.
    But at any rate it’s probably better than *drying* berries and pulverising them into a powder to be sold as “red” nutrients-both he and the other idiot sell that at a high cost per 500 g..

  106. #106 Narad
    March 18, 2014

    About 5 or 6 years ago, I spent a lot of time setting up the Everyday Math software on computers for elementary school students and sometimes helping students who were having trouble with the program.

    Heh. I did the same thing back in 1990 or 1991, only the installation and support was for teachers.

    I didn’t look at a lot of problems, but didn’t notice anything particularly weird about the problem formulations.

    It’s more the methods that are baroque: here is an example of the “algorithms” deployed for basic arithmetic. The last time I surveyed the parents I know (including my dentist, who noted that the son he was sending off to college was unable to perform division without a calculator), only one offered a positive comment, that partial-sums had helped her (on the spectrum) son past a block with carrying.

    Unfortunately, the issue is so polarized (often politically) that it’s a pain in the tokhes to sift for good information on outcomes: The last time I bothered, it took a while to realize that a chunk of the postive literature shared a common author connected to UCSMP. Ultimately, though, this isn’t the driver: it boils down to going for broke on assumptions about cognitive psychology. (“Everyday Mathematics” itself evokes Jean Nave.)

    Paul Sally, whose second-year “Analysis in Rⁿ” was hypercompetitive to be admitted to, died in January; I tend to wonder whether this was what he really had in mind when he came on board. (Zalman Usiskin is still around.)

  107. #107 Scottynuke
    March 18, 2014

    @MrsGrimble #97 — Now that I’m home and not on an office computer, I’m free to say I know Fukushima and its various scaremongering memes all too well. I’ve had to fight them in an official capacity the past three years, y’see. Glad to know your son-in-law’s also fighting the good fight — he’s probably used information I’ve put out for a general audience. :)

  108. #108 Denice Walter
    March 18, 2014

    @ Narad:

    But SERIOUSLY we all know that cognitive psychology absolutely, totally RULES!
    ( Sort of, anyway).

  109. #109 LW
    March 18, 2014

    But rather than just put the equations there, they had them phrased as word problems, in this case the dimensions of a rectangle, given that sort of formula for the area.

    That’s the problem with the “Juanita” question and its ilk. They try to make the question into a word problem, and they come up with something completely stupid and contrived. They should just give the equation and teach the child how to solve it, without a bunch of irrelevant verbiage.

  110. #110 Bill Price
    March 19, 2014

    Denice Walter, #102, March 18, 2014

    -btw- the idiots I survey have made such a ruckus over Fukushima, they’d have you believe that undiluted radiation is literally washing ashore** in California making fishes ( and those who ingest them) GLOW in the dark.
    Trust me, it isn’t. I was there last year and nothing glows in the dark. Now those gigantic, lounging sea lions and their bebes hauling out on the shore barking and *glowing* would be quite a sight to behold.
    ** over 6000 miles

    OTOH, Denice — I lived in southern California, by the beach, for well over 20 years. Several times each year, with unpredictable timing, there would be a bloom of phosphorescent algae just off the surf line, often into the surf. This algae would phosphoresce whenever it was stressed, as by a wave.
    It is definitely not a radiation phenomenon. The observer must be at the beach at the right time and place to observe it. It may last for a night or two, and extend a mile or six along the coast. If anyone reports having seen this alleged radiation incursion, it’s dollars to donuts that algae was aglow.

  111. #111 Bill Price
    March 19, 2014

    Denice Walter, #102, March 18, 2014

    -btw- the idiots I survey have made such a ruckus over Fukushima, they’d have you believe that undiluted radiation is literally washing ashore** in California making fishes ( and those who ingest them) GLOW in the dark.
    Trust me, it isn’t. I was there last year and nothing glows in the dark. Now those gigantic, lounging sea lions and their bebes hauling out on the shore barking and *glowing* would be quite a sight to behold.
    ** over 6000 miles

    OTOH, Denice — I lived in southern California, by the beach, for well over 20 years. Several times each year, with unpredictable timing, there would be a bloom of phosphorescent algae just off the surf line, often into the surf. This algae would phosphoresce whenever it was stressed, as by a wave.
    It is definitely not a radiation phenomenon. The observer must be at the beach at the right time and place to observe it. It may last for a night or two, and extend a mile or six along the coast. If anyone reports having seen this alleged radiation incursion, it’s dollars to donuts that algae was aglow.

  112. #112 Bill Price
    March 19, 2014

    Denice Walter, #102, March 18, 2014

    -btw- the idiots I survey have made such a ruckus over Fukushima, they’d have you believe that undiluted radiation is literally washing ashore** in California making fishes ( and those who ingest them) GLOW in the dark.
    Trust me, it isn’t. I was there last year and nothing glows in the dark. Now those gigantic, lounging sea lions and their bebes hauling out on the shore barking and *glowing* would be quite a sight to behold.
    ** over 6000 miles

    OTOH, Denice — I lived in southern California, by the beach, for well over 20 years. Several times each year, with unpredictable timing, there would be a bloom of phosphorescent algae just off the surf line, often into the surf. This algae would phosphoresce whenever it was stressed, as by a wave.
    It is definitely not a radiation phenomenon. The observer must be at the beach at the right time and place to observe it. It may last for a night or two, and extend a mile or six along the coast. If anyone reports having seen this alleged radiation incursion, it’s dollars to donuts that algae was aglow.
    NB: Scienceblogs seems to be saying “service not available” on my initial attempts to submit this comment. Oops.

  113. #113 Bill Price
    March 19, 2014

    I surmise that “Service Not Available” means “The comment you just submitted was posted but I’ll not tell you until you submit it a few more times”.

  114. #114 Denice Walter
    March 19, 2014

    @ Bill Price:

    I know about the phosphorescent algae in the Caribbean.

    Just wait, a loyal conspiracy fan of Mike or Gary will post a photo of this and say it’s Fukushima radiation.
    They already say not to buy algae/ kelp/ seafood products from the Pacific.

  115. #115 squirrelelite
    March 19, 2014

    Since Fukushima and radiation seem to be the topic, I did a little looking and found this blog post about the topic.
    It’s actually quite well written, science-based and somewhat humorous.
    http://www.lifelibertyhealthiness.com/2013/12/why-im-not-afraid-of-fukushima/
    It’s written by Jeremiah Scott, who seems to be the husband of Liv who runs the blog.
    Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for most of the other posts on the blog. (It’s the natural foods are better/avoid toxic chemicals stuff.)
    The author appears on this episode of The Atomic Show, a long-running podcast about nuclear issues.
    http://atomicinsights.com/atomic-show-210-leadership-navy-nukes/

  116. #117 Shay
    March 19, 2014

    @Bill

    Ever so coincidentally, I attended a conference on nuclear safety in Atlanta one month after Fukushima (my jurisdiction is within the 50 mile radius of one reactor and two counties away from four more). My counterpart in San Jose, California, reported that he was getting death threats at home from irate locals who wanted to know why he wasn’t handing out potassium iodide like Hershey bars.

  117. #118 Shay
    March 19, 2014

    Militant Agnostic — Don’t knock freeze-dried strawberries. Granted, I haven’t had to eat one for years, but I remember when freeze-dried strawberries were about the only thing in Meals, Ready To Eat (MREs) that bore any resemblance to foodstuffs.

  118. #119 Scottynuke
    March 19, 2014

    @ Shay #117 — Although I won’t say, I can offer a very educated guess as to which state holds your jurisdiction…

    :)

  119. #120 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 19, 2014

    I used to like freeze dried strawberries, though it’s been a while. Not as good as a good fresh strawberry, but not all strawberries are good when fresh.

  120. #121 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    March 19, 2014

    To properly enjoy a freeze-dried strawberry, don’t just eat it. Suck on it for a bit. Let your saliva moisten it and pull the flavor out so you can really enjoy it. ;-) Otherwise it just tastes like astronaut ice cream.

  121. #122 herr doktor bimler
    March 19, 2014

    astronaut ice cream
    Worst novelty flavour EVER.

  122. #123 Shay
    March 19, 2014

    Scottynuke — twelve, count ‘em, twelve. Eleven active.

  123. #124 Shay
    March 19, 2014

    We also lead the country in number of former governors now serving jail time. I’m sure there’s no connection.

  124. #125 Scottynuke
    March 19, 2014

    Shay — That location the only possible answer, of course. (Except that it’s 14, with 11 active.) :)

  125. #126 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 19, 2014

    Worst novelty flavour EVER.

    Like shepherds pie – what sick, twisted sheep with a thirst for vengeance came up with that one?

  126. #127 Denice Walter
    March 19, 2014

    Even worse:
    ladyfingers

  127. #128 Brook
    March 19, 2014

    @Denice – Baby food

  128. #129 Denice Walter
    March 19, 2014

    We’d better stop.
    We’ll be giving Draconis ideas for his next dinner party.

  129. […] to his patently false claims, some of whom aren’t so nice to him (here’s looking at you Orac! but I do love your style), the health douche assumes it’s a knee-jerk reflex, even though it […]

  130. #131 Shay
    March 19, 2014

    Scottynuke…damn. Now I’m going to have to dig out that NRC map and find the other two.

  131. #132 Narad
    March 20, 2014
    astronaut ice cream

    Worst novelty flavour EVER.

    Are you sure about that?

  132. #133 Krebiozen
    March 20, 2014

    Like shepherds pie – what sick, twisted sheep with a thirst for vengeance came up with that one?

    As the recipe tells us, “First peel one shepherd” (stolen from The Goodies).

  133. #134 Scottynuke
    March 20, 2014

    Shay — Here’s a hint: What was the name of the last human city in the Matrix triolgy? :)

  134. #135 thor
    March 20, 2014

    If adams is that adverse to heavy metals maybe he should rid his body of all Iron and see how his red blood cells adapt to that?

  135. #136 Really???
    Earth
    May 12, 2014

    “Similarly, there is no evidence that mercury-containing amalgams used in dental fillings is dangerous. It’s been used for a long time, and has an excellent safety record. It’s inexpensive, and versatile, and substitutes are more expensive and don’t have the same long track record of safety.”

    OK… If you are so cock sure with your arrogant self then arrange to have an intravenous injection of elemental mercury and prove how “safe”it is.

    Extremely laughable. You have your nose up the ass of the establishment Orac. What a good little boy you are!

    Much of the belabored dogma you consider science proves you to be the fraud sir.

    An opinion of Neil Degrasse Tyson on anything other than the stars and planets is nothing short of just that; an opinion.

    You and your peers don’t dictate reality buddy!

  136. #137 AdamG
    May 12, 2014

    arrange to have an intravenous injection of elemental mercury and prove how “safe”it is.

    Cupcake, have you ever heard the phrase “the dose makes the poison?”

  137. #138 squirrelelite
    May 12, 2014

    So, did you read today’s Really Bad Joke from my email?

    At a dinner party, a teenage boy found himself seated next to Olivia Mandelmore, a renowned professor and chemist. The boy hadn’t heard of the scientist or her work, so he asked her, “What do you do?”

    “I study chemistry,” Professor Mandelmore said.

    “You do?” the boy said. “Wow. I finished chemistry at the end of tenth grade.”

    Actually, Really, since you don’t even understand that a pure element has different chemical properties from various compounds that include an atom of that element, the boy in the joke probably knows more about chemistry than you.

    Put, since you are such a good researcher, perhaps you could find some evidence of how vaccine side effects have been reduced since ethyl mercury was eliminated as a preservative from most U.S. vaccines about 10 years ago.

  138. #139 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    May 12, 2014

    “You and your peers don’t dictate reality buddy!”

    Oh, and you do?

    Tell me, how is injecting intravenous elemental mercury supposed to show that dental amalgams are safe? Surely you’re aware that dental amalgams are a) not elemental mercury and b) not injected intravenously (they tend to work better in the actual mouth)?

  139. #140 Narad
    May 13, 2014

    You and your peers don’t dictate reality buddy!

    If an ox-driven cart doesn’t move, do you whip the ox or the cart?

  140. #141 Renate
    May 13, 2014

    I suppose Realy doesn’t use salt in his food, because injecting sodium in your blood isn’t very healthy, to say the least and chlorine is a poisonous gas.

  141. #142 Brook
    May 13, 2014

    Actually, Really doesn’t use salt because he can’t find any that’s organic…..

  142. #143 Renate
    May 13, 2014

    Doesn’t Mike Adams sell organic salt?

  143. […] quantum dork, and raving nutball around here, right? If nothing else, you must have enjoyed Orac’s regular deconstruction of his […]

  144. […] quantum dork, and raving nutball around here, right? If nothing else, you must have enjoyed Orac’s regular deconstruction of his […]

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