Quackademia at the University of Toronto: Antivaccine pseudoscience taught by a homeopath is "not unbalanced"

Aside from deconstructing the misinformation and pseudoscience of the antivaccine movement, another of the top three or so topics I routinely discuss here is the infiltration of pseudoscience into medicine. In particular, I've found and discussed more examples than I can possibly remember of what I like to call quackademic medicine, defined as the infiltration of quackery into academic medicine. This quackery mainly insinuates its way into medical schools and academic medical centers through the emerging specialty known as "integrative medicine," which used to be called "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM). What "integrative medicine" involves is the integration of prescientific mystical beliefs about medicine rooted in vitalism and pseudoscientific quackery into science-based medicine (SBM). That's how we find modalities like reiki (faith healing that substitutes Eastern mystical beliefs for Christian beliefs) and traditional Chinese medicine (which is based on concepts very much like the "Western" idea of the four humors) in many prestigious academic medical centers, such as the Cleveland Clinic, University of Arizona, UCSF, and even the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Meanwhile, medical schools like Georgetown and the University of Maryland (to name but a couple) rush to integrate quackery into their undergraduate medical curricula, while respectable professional societies like the American Society of Clinical Oncology feature "integrative medicine" sessions at their annual meetings. Years ago, I used to maintain a list that I called the Academic Woo Aggregator, but there was just so much quackademic medicine that I gave up updating it long ago.

When I noted that my very own alma mater, the University of Michigan, has a program in anthroposophic medicine, I despaired. I thought that that was as bad as it could get. Then I came across Jen Gunter's blog posts and news stories about quackery at the University of Toronto, specifically a course being taught by Beth Landau-Halpern, a homeopath.

Let that sink in a minute. There is a course in medicine, specifically alternative medicine, being taught by a homeopath, and, worse than that, it's featuring Joe Mercola interviewing Andrew Wakefield as a legitimate source of information on vaccines.

This particular homeopath happens to be the wife of Rick Halpern, the Dean of the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus, which is the campus where the course was offered this spring. The course was called Alternative Health: Practice and Theory HLTD04H3-S Special Topics in Health, and it is loaded with quackery, as you can tell just from the course description:

Alternative medicine (i.e. the wide range of modalities other than conventional western biomedicine), has gained unprecedented popularity among patients, and a nearly unprecedented backlash from the scientific and conventional medicine communities of late. Dissatisfaction with the results and quality of care patients get from mainstream medicine, how well they are (or aren’t) listened to, the astronomical cost of such medicine, increased suspicion of pharmaceutical safety, a generalized belief that natural is better, and, in some instances, a preference for culturally traditional medicinal practices, are some of the many factors that drive patients to seek alternative health care. At the same time, the “scientification” and “technicalization” of medicine seems to be widely accepted and is employed to assert the perceived fundamental superiority of a biomedical approach to disease; to further the financial incentive of the pharmaceutical industry which has an enormous stake in the scientific, drug-based approach to health; and to disparage “alternative” approaches as quackery and fraud.

Yes, there are the same old complaints from alternative medicine practitioners, such as that medicine is arrogant and asserts its superiority due to science (as if being science-based were a bad thing!) and invokes a bit of the old "pharma shill" gambit as a reason why alternative medicine hasn't become more accepted. Then, there's some serious woo-speak that regular readers of this blog will have seen in various forms before but that one doesn't expect to find stated unironically in the course description of a class offered by a major university:

We will delve into a quantum physics’ understanding of disease and alternative medicine to provide a scientific hypothesis of how these modalities may work. Quantum physics is a branch of physics that understands the interrelationship between matter and energy. This science offers clear explanations as to why homeopathic remedies with seemingly no chemical trace of the original substance are able to resolve chronic diseases, why acupuncture can offer patients enough pain relief to undergo surgery without anesthesia, why meditation alone can, in some instances, reduce the size of cancerous tumors.

Yes, there's quantum quackery in that there course description! Need it be repeated that homeopathy is The One Quackery To Rule Them All, and that quantum "explanations" offered by homeopaths for homeopathy can "work" invoking "energy" are abuses of physics of the worst sort, as are other scientific concepts co-opted to serve the quackery that is homeopathy, such as nanoparticles. Don't believe me? Just check out Charlene Werner's explanation of "energy" to get an idea of how bad it can be (NOTE: this is NOT Beth Landau-Halpern):

I'm not saying that's what Landau-Halpern taught (that is, after all, not her), but it is the sort of nonsense you get when a homeopath invokes quantum mechanics, which is why, based on the syllabus, it wouldn't surprise me if that's the sort of thing Landau-Halpern taught. If that's not enough for you, you should try to check out Lionel Milgrom's epic quantum quackiness about homeopathy. But beware. If you're an honest-to-goodness physicist, reading Milgrom's stylings could melt your brain. If you're a skeptic, they'll evoke a combination of disgust and hilarity. It was so bad that physicists wrote to the university to complain.

It gets worse, though. The abuse of physics is nothing more than the standard quantum nonsense that quacks invoke the way shamans invoke magic and the gods. it's bad, but it doesn't directly degrade public health. (Indirectly is another matter.) One of the classes in the course, however, does just that. I'm referring to week 9, a class entitled Vaccination – the King of Controversy. First, before I show you the suggested reading, let me just say this. Vaccination is not controversial from a scientific standpoint. It's really not. The "controversy" over vaccinations is what I like to call a pseudodebate, where science denialists use misinformation, cherry picked studies, and bad reasoning to attack established science. This course does nothing but feed that pseudodebate among its student,s as though it were legitimate. Don't get me wrong. I don't object in concept to a course that looks at the antivaccine movement and its arguments, but such a course must be rooted in science and critical thinking, so that it helps students understand why antivaccine misinformation is not supported by science. Ditto quantum quackery. Instead, we get this:

Required Readings/ Viewings for this week:

Optional Reading:

Safeminds? Collective Evolution? Joe Mercola? Andrew Wakefield? These are not reliable sources on vaccines. They represent the underbelly of the antivaccine movement. Hell, why not include the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism as a legitimate source while you're at it? Notice also how there isn't the "other side" of this "controversy" offered, as in information on vaccines from the CDC, vaccine scientists, and legitimate sources. It's all one-sided—the antivaccine side.

But wait, there's more! Week 10 is all about "detoxification" in the context of naturopathy: CAM Modality: Naturopathic Medicine: Nutritional Deprivation and Environmental Toxins and Their Impact on Health and Brain Function. Naturopathy, of course, is pure quackery, as is the "detoxification" recommended by naturopaths, who, by the way, also are all trained in homeopathy and most of whom still use it.

Now here's the incredible thing. Because of the complaints, the University of Toronto undertook a review of the course. According to the review, carried out by Vivek Goel, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, there wasn't a problem! Seriously, after examining the curriculum of the 2015 course and the student evaluations from the 2014 course, Goel concluded that there wasn't a problem! First off, he let Landau-Halpern off the hook for her antivaccine nonsense by noting that she changed the curriculum in 2015 in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak and had "voluntarily removed the section for which the greatest degree of concerns were subsequently raised."

Incredibly, Goel then concluded:

I did explore with her how she approached this topic in 2014 and how she would have done so if it had remained on the curriculum this year. She reports that she approaches this issue from a nuanced perspective and encourages students to think critically about vaccine effectiveness and safety.

The syllabus for the course contains a reading list for the immunization class which gives emphasis to materials s that primarily focus on risks for vaccines. The instructor reports that she provides these readings as the students have already seen the other side in previous courses. In class they are then able to have a discussion from all perspectives.

As a result, I do not find that the instructor’s approach in this class has been, or would have reasonably been perceived to be unbalanced, in the sense that it deviated from a presentation of material that, in context, would enable critical analysis, and inquiry. Thus, from an academic pedagogy perspective, I do not find that there has been sufficient deviation from the range of normal approaches to warrant concerns.

With a reading list like this, there's no way what was being taught in any way resembled critical thinking, particularly taking into account that Landau-Halpern is a homeopath. More than that, she's a homeopath who's been busted by investigative journalists. A CBC Marketplace investigation filmed her advising a young mother against vaccines and promoting homeopathic nosodes as an alternative. Nosodes, of course, are pure quackery. Not surprisingly, Landau-Halpern cried "entrapment! She also offers homeopathy to treat ADHD and CEASE therapy (based in homeopathy) to treat autism.

Shockingly, all Goel could come up with was this:

On review of the process it does not appear that there was adequate consideration or comment by the department and colleagues on the proposed course outline developed in 2013 for the Spring 2014 session, nor for the Spring 2015 session. While I do not find that the course is unbalanced, in the sense of the term used above, I do believe it could be strengthened by greater engagement of academic colleagues through such a review process. The Department Chair and Program Director will continue to work closely with the instructor through the balance of the term. If the course is to be offered again in the future it should be developed as a regular course and taken through the usual governance reviews.

Oddly enough, the Department of Anthropology is the department responsible for the Health Studies Program, under which this course fell. Clearly, the department utterly failed, and U of T administration is basically shrugging its shoulders over it. Goel sees nothing, hears nothing, knows nothing, just like Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's Heroes.

Unfortunately, this is not the only problem that U of T has had with quackademic medicine. U of T is, after all, the home of another homeopathy aficionado, namely Heather Boon, Dean of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and principal investigator of a clinical trial testing homeopathy for ADHD. The university has also hosted a quackfest known as the IN-CAM Symposium, where homeopathy, naturopathy, and chelation therapy featured prominently. This is consistent with its recent founding of a its new Centre for Integrative Medicine on—surprise! surprise!—the Scarborough Campus. This is a typical center dedicated to integrating quackery with medicine, in particular traditional Chinese medicine. When pseudoscience invades a campus that way, is it any surprise that a course taught by a homeopathy spouting antivaccine propaganda and quantum woo start popping up?

I feel sorry for my bud Scott Gavura and all the good pharmacists, nurses, and physicians who trained at U of T, because it's clear that the university has gone all in for quackademic medicine. What's next? Teaching young earth creationism in biology classes? Teaching astrology in astronomy class? If U of T doesn't care whether its course offerings are scientifically valid any more, why not really go all in for pseudoscience? After all, Beth Landau-Halpern's course is nothing more than the latest culmination of an infiltration of quackery that's been going on for years now. The administration might as well found a naturopathy school at this point.

ADDENDUM: Apparently Beth Landau-Halpern's class is gone and she is no longer on staff:

http://www.speakingupforscience.ca/news/2015/7/6/lecturer-who-taught-anti-vaxxer-propaganda-no-longer-at-u-of-t

Not much in the post in that link hopefully we'll learn more.

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All the education you have under your name and yet you are still a moron.
William W Thompson just went to the Obama administration and applied and received f'Whistleblower status' in regards to Autism and the MMR.
Btw right after he was granted Whisteblower, Julie Gerberding just sold a ton of Merck stock for over 2 million dollars. Cashing out while she can I suppose.

By he who laughs last (not verified) on 06 Jul 2015 #permalink

I read it first yesterday night at Jen Gunther's blog. I have been working around Toronto a few years ago, and UToronto was then regarded as a landmark of excellence, so this story was resonating slightly personally.
I knew they already had "integrated" a naturopath cursus. But this story about an homeopath teaching the other side of vaccines triggered in me a massive WTF moment.
Coming from a place where insulin was first extracted and then used to save the life of a diabetic boy in the hospital next door, it's a really sad orientation.

A CBC Marketplace investigation filmed her advising a young mother against vaccines and promoting homeopathic nosodes as an alternative.

Oh, so it was her, to top it. I didn't know that.
And how the heck the university dean doesn't smell some massive conflict of interest, here?
I mean, it's one thing to teach about something you happen to be selling, but a whole course dedicated in dissing your competitors?

By Helianthus (not verified) on 06 Jul 2015 #permalink

I have to be honest, I could not get through more than a couple minutes of that video - it was downright painful. Forget quantum physics, I don't think she even understands algebra.

We will delve into a quantum physics’ understanding of disease and alternative medicine to provide a scientific hypothesis of how these modalities may work. ... This science offers clear explanations as to why homeopathic remedies with seemingly no chemical trace of the original substance are able to resolve chronic diseases, why acupuncture can offer patients enough pain relief to undergo surgery without anesthesia, why meditation alone can, in some instances, reduce the size of cancerous tumors.

I did my Masters and PhD at UofT in physics (particle physics) so have more than a passing knowledge of QM. It saddens me that UofT offers a course where such a statement can be made. Letters of concern shall be sent.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 06 Jul 2015 #permalink

Aaaand… she’s gone.

That was quick.

Someone from higher up in the administration saw the potential reputational damage this might cause.

Aaaand… she’s gone.

I should have read the comments first.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

William W Thompson just went to the Obama administration and applied and received f’Whistleblower status’

I am not sure this is the case. There is no record that this has happened.

What it has to do with teaching homeopathy at the University of Toronto I am struggling with.

Nothing. It has nothing to do with U of T. I suggest that "he who laughs last" choose a vaccine thread if he/she/it wants to spew that nonsense. If he persists on this post with off-topic comments I will simply delete them.

@ Bob

I don’t think she even understands algebra

There is some part in the video where she simplifies E=m.c2 into E=c2, because the mass of the whole universe is negligible.
The most beautiful* division by zero I ever saw.

* in the artistic sense. In the arithmetic sense, it's awful.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

I just explained her simplification of E=mc^2 into E=c^2 to a colleague. We had a good laugh (tinged with sadness that this level of crap could be taught in a University Course). I used to have 1st year students do this on lab reports/assignments (when stuck on a problem) in the hope that I'd not notice.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Whatever the case may be, someone's corn flakes definitely got pissed in this morning.

Quantum physics is a branch of physics that understands the interrelationship between matter and energy. This science offers clear explanations as to why homeopathic remedies with seemingly no chemical trace of the original substance are able to resolve chronic diseases, why acupuncture can offer patients enough pain relief to undergo surgery without anesthesia, why meditation alone can, in some instances, reduce the size of cancerous tumors.

As Stewart (above) notes, the University of Toronto has a reputable physics department, and even the undergraduate students in that program (let alone the faculty) could tell you that the above quotation is unadulterated malarkey. Quantum physics deals with the microscopic behavior of matter. It can tell you in precise mathematical detail why homeopathy doesn't work (but it's overkill for that purpose; you get essentially the same answer if you use high school chemistry). Acupuncture needles are big enough that any effects they might have should be explainable with classical physics, without invoking quantum effects (at that scale quantum physics reduces to classical physics). The last claim about meditation is meaningless, since we don't have an adequate description of the physics of meditation.

Oh, and she (or maybe the woman in the video, which I haven't watched) is invoking E = mc^2? That's special relativity, not quantum physics. TV Tropes has an entire page devoted to that sort of thing.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

"While I do not find that the course is unbalanced, in the sense of the term used above, I do believe it could be strengthened by greater engagement of academic colleagues through such a review process... If the course is to be offered again in the future it should be developed as a regular course and taken through the usual governance reviews."

This is academic-speak for "We've got to cover our asses better the next time we offer crap taught by relatives of influential administrators."

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

#3 @he who laughs last

So what does your middle ground look like?

Because there is something a bit binary about it. Either you vaccinate enough people to either eradicate a disease (which we can do with significant effort and expense) or keep it mostly at bay or you do not. Because lets work really hard to make sure the grandkids don't even need some of the vaccinations anymore because it is gone makes more sense to me than lets work really hard to make sure the disease will always be with us because we will not ever do anything to make sure enough people are vaccinated against anything ever again.

Vaccinating 50% of the people 50% of the time (the absolute middle) just ensures the diseases can never be eliminated and no amount of sanitation or vitamin pills is going to do what the vaccine will.

Or do you pick 50% of the vaccines to keep mandating and just hope enough people volunteer for the rest that you never come across someone contagious with the other things?

Do you include the harms from the diseases in determining where "middle" is?

Do you just chuck all the science because we don't actually spend the time and money it would take to fix the system, and do you acknowledge there can be bad science on both sides of the debate or is most pro-vaccine science bad and most anti-vaxx science is good no matter how many times it is found to be problematic? Or just put it all in a blender and hope the sludge is about 50% right?

Oops, sorry I asked questions, I just find the middle ground argument annoying. I will stay on the topic of U of T from now on in the thread.

@16 - Eric Lund
Thank you for being much more eloquent and actually explaining what is wrong with the QM woo taught in this course.

Too much time zone crossing has occurred as of late (with more to come) such that it is amazing that pointing and grunting are not the only form of communication that I possess.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

General relativists use notation in which G = c = 1, in which case that the equation would simplify to E = m, not E = c^2, which is just plain stupid -- indeed, the stupid, it burns!

By palindrom (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

A sibling of mine teaches at Scarborough Campus. All I'm going to say is politics.

Pardon the theological expletive, but, "Good God!!"

This should have been sufficient to produce two firings, not one: "This particular homeopath happens to be the wife of Rick Halpern, the Dean of the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus, which is the campus where the course was offered this spring."

Whatever happened to rules against nepotism??

--

I finally understand why quantum quackery is dangerous. Apologies for the long learning curve on this one:

Having gotten through classical physics well enough to make a fool of myself in public, I knew next to zilch about QM until I started reading (reputable books & stuff online, yeah I know) on my own and interacting with working physicists in various forums. So with that description of Landau-Halpern's quantum BS (I didn't watch the video, having just eaten I didn't want to waste a meal and clean the barf off my desk), I envisioned myself as student sitting in that course, knowing about physics what I knew at the relevant age.

Uh-oh.

Because at that age I knew next to nothing about QM, so my mind would have been an open field, ripe for infesting with wacky weeds, plus or minus getting a serious "WTF?" moment about her torture of Einstein. Whether or not that particular WTF would have been sufficient to plant some seeds of doubt to keep the wacky weeds from taking over, I don't know.

But assuming that credulousness follows a normal curve, and the curve is skewed for the population who would take that class: there would be plenty of kids there who would swallow the garbage whole and not even burp. Thereafter going on to spread it like measles among their peers and some day, their patients.

Aack.

No, we can't have that. Glad to hear a bunch of physicists complained.

Best of all to hear she's out of there. I'll guess that everyone involved is going to concoct a placebo press release with a homeopathic dose of excuses (diluted to what level?) to cover their derrieres. But at least she's out of there.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Unbelieveably, bald-faced, nepotism. Like Dr. Oz and his hand-waving wife, the head of UT clearly wanted to a: keep peace at home, and b: steer more Loonies from the Uni coffers into their household. I hope the latest slap on the wrist puts the entire program on notice.

In other news, a local doyenne of the business community in my happy hamlet, has announced in a 3000 word interview penned by our local corporate butt-nuzzling rag, that her company may basically pollute at will because a disembodied Native American spirit told her it was okay as long as she added some solar panels. And she's a reiki practitioner.

That is all.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

#14 stewartt1982

You missed the worst of it: e = mc^2 morphed into e=c. She did not even understand the distinction between c and c^2 in her talk.

Overall thought, thevideo was excellent. I am now a total convert to homoeopathy. How exactly do I hold the bottle while I shake it? Oh and can I dilute with a 50/50 mixture of gin and white vermouth rather than water?

I barely got out of Gr 13 Physics alive but the sheer idiocy of her presentation is amazing even to me. Are we sure she is not Alan Sokal in disguise?

As the video played I was also looking at something on the desk and I failed to notice when it ended. The next time I looked it was a man with a white beard (no not him) talking and I looked on with shock at the Caltech sign on the lecture. Woo at Caltech? Ah no, it was James Randi doing a marvellously funny take-down on homoeopathy. Lovely segue

I knew U of T had woo problems but it is a pity to see it spreading like that.

I was under the impression that my local university (Queen's Kingston) was pretty-well woo free--at least nothing in the medical school seems to show up but last winter the student newspaper, The Journal had some articles on a Health Sciences course with anti-vax propaganda. From the article, it looked like the course had been run by the same woman or 2 or 3 years.

It was heartwarming to read about student response to such a course. There had been complaints before but the student government this year reported “Zarzour said, a complaint was filed to him on behalf of an entire class”. http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2015-02-05/news/queens-prof-slammed-a…

I believe something was finally done, the instructor was eased out of the course and is not teaching it again as far as I can see. To be fair to her, it seems that the course was quite outside her area and she may have just been dropped into it.

Adjuncts don't have a lot of bargaining power it they want to keep eating but one wonders why the Faculty kept her in such a course after all those complaints.

It is to be hoped that she is not spreading too much woo in the courses she does teach. However a quick look at RateMyProf is not totally encouraging “While some of the material was questionable, she definitely did her best” for another course.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Gray Squirrel is correct:
woo invoking QM is often aimed at an audience that has no idea what it's really about and it sounds IMPRESSIVE as well- simultaneously science-y and sophisticated- above the common masses' ken, elevating its interpreter to his rightful place above most of humanity.

Idiotic woo-slingers like Mikey and Gary Null similarly mangle physics - including classical - in order to awe their audiences into a worshipful stupor. Incredibly, they might decorate their physics with a dollop of Eastern Religion as well making for a mighty mashup of ideas most likely beyond their OWN ken.
But then, they may have read a page or two of Capra's book.

Interestingly, Mike, paragon of faux science that he is, isn't content until he has included all branches of research science in his mind-boggling parody of meaningfulness: he opines esoterically upon cognitive psychology which he claims to have studied.

Really. He said that.

I would venture a guess that he mentions it because MOST people do not study cognitive psychology so it has that *mysterioso* aura much as QM does. Similarly, anything with 'neuro-' as a prefix.

Thus, whenever I hear an altie bring up QM, cognition or epigenetics ( but hardly ever JUST genetics) I see it as a shibboleth that this is indeed woo and self-PR, enhanced by delusions of grandeur as well as a canny business sense.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Whatever happened to rules against nepotism??

I can't speak for the Canadian system, and my comments are only relevant if the dean in question was an external hire, but it's common in the US to include a job offer for the spouse in an offer package when hiring at the dean level or above (this has even been known to happen at the assistant professor level, but the likelihood increases with the level of the hire). One of the drawbacks of being in academia is what is called the two-body problem: the difficulty of finding two faculty-level jobs within feasible commuting distance of each other. It's a particular problem in physics: I understand that a majority of the women in the US who have Ph.D. degrees in physics are married to men who have Ph.D. degrees in physics. And many of the ones who aren't are married to people with Ph.D. degrees in some other discipline. I don't know how big an issue it is in other fields, but university hiring committees do have to consider the two-body problem if they want to hire their preferred candidates. So if Halpern was an external hire, hiring his wife as well is not necessarily nefarious. But if he was an internal hire, that's more of an issue.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

applied and received f’Whistleblower status’

Owing to a clerical error, Thompson actually received Vuvuzuela-blower status.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

After watching that video, I can finally achieve all my wildest dreams by simply ignoring mass! This is quite liberating. I no longer drive to work, but rather float on light beams of energy. What a time-saver! Also, I can eat whatever I want, and I can tell my SO that mass is irrelevant, so pass the cheese fries! Wait, I think we just solved the obesity epidemic. Thanks, homeopathy!

By Dr. Chim Richalds (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

"Thompson actually received Vuvuzuela-blower status."

No, he is a whistle blower, though more accurately a dog whistle blower. Only the dogs can hear him blowing. Or at least they imagine that's what he's doing.

@27 Eric Lund
While I'm Canadian, but can't really speak to how common hiring both members of a couple in the two-body problem is in Canada. I do know that it is common outside of the US as I'm friends with 3 physics couples in Europe who had their spouse receiving a position as part of their contracts. It is probably the same in Canada.

Anyone in academia outside of physics know if this is common practice for other fields?

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

"General relativists use notation in which G = c = 1, in which case that the equation would simplify to E = m, not E = c^2, which is just plain stupid — indeed, the stupid, it burns!"

Indeed. The relativistic conservation law conserves mass-energy (since they are fundamentally equivalent), replacing the older conservation laws. So if she's reduced mass all she's done is invoke thermonuclear fusion. She has truly bombed.

#3 Truth-Out, huh?

You honestly think no one has seen this before?

"Alex James is a critical scholar of science, culture and social policy. He has a MA in cultural translation from the American University of Paris, France, and a BA in political science from California State University, Sacramento."

Exactly the credentials I like to see in my medical advisers.

By Robert L Bell (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

I don't know what the funding arrangements are for students in Canada. If it's like Britain, where the kids take out massive loans to pay for their education, and then spend much of their lives paying it back, I think some of them should think carefully about what they've paid for with this course.

And then they should issue small claims lawsuits against the University of Toronto - who, I can guarantee - will pay back some element of the fees for this course, just to make what they have done go away. There would be no shortage of medical and scientific opinion, not only that the course was worthless, but that participants were educationally damaged by it.

Seriously, guys, get advice, sue them, and watch them run.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Oh herr doktor, how you made me laugh. I'm so stealing that.

Newsflash: CDC informant granted Vuvuzuela-blower status!

I got sort of curious and wanted to find out where the whole "Obama granted Thompson ’Whistleblower status’" thing started. It turns out it was an article headlined "Obama Admin Grants Immunity To CDC Scientist That Fudged Vaccine Report…Whistleblower Plans To Testify Before Congress," written by a fellow named Patrick Howley and published Febraury 3 2015 at something called "The Daily Caller".

This is what The Daily Caller says about itself

Founded in 2010 by Tucker Carlson, a 20-year veteran journalist, and Neil Patel, former chief policy advisor to Vice President Cheney, The Daily Caller is a 24-hour news publication providing its audience with original reporting, in-depth investigations, thought-provoking commentary and breaking news.

The original article did not substantiate the headline claim in the body of the article. Never the less, it has been widely repeated by the usual suspects.

Whatever happened to rules against nepotism??

Rules against nepotism? In academia? Not only are there no specific rules against it, spousal hires are a thing, at least at my university.

^ Ah, I see Eric Lund preceded me with a comment about spousal hires. I can say that other forms of nepotism are not exactly uncommon, though, either.

Maybe she discarded mass because, hey, the universe is 90% dark matter and we can't do much with that stuff anyhow, like, you know.

Maybe homeopaths should start invoking dark matter interactions as the next nonexistent reason for their quackery.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

"Obama Admin Grants Immunity To CDC Scientist That Fudged Vaccine Report…Whistleblower Plans To Testify Before Congress”

This is obviously false. The Obama Administration is spending all its time these days urging Americans to refinance their mortgages.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Tucker Carlson,geez.I am not surprised in the least.Tucker is a friend of Alex Jones and a 9/11 Truther.

In many ways Tucker Carlson’s a better symbol of the pathetic state of what passes for conservative journalism than even Glenn Beck or the late Andrew Breitbart, to name two of his contemporaries with a much larger following.

The Daily Caller has been known to sink to even lower depths than Glenn Beck.In many ways they could be called the whale.to or Natural News of right wing news sites.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Oh, and she (or maybe the woman in the video, which I haven’t watched) is invoking E = mc^2? That’s special relativity, not quantum physics.

Am I the only one who gets irritated when the momentum term is left out?

Maybe homeopaths should start invoking dark matter interactions as the next nonexistent reason for their quackery.

LMAO

A "former pharmaceutical company employee now making the AVx rounds claiming that she now uses homeopathy 'because Vioxx.' I needed a good laugh.

Denice/Gr*ySquirrel "woo invoking Quantum Mechanics" can only be invoked as mysterioso psychedelia by those who have never actually actually had to cram for Schroedinger equations on a college finals exam, when quantum mechanics is not entirely a bowl of bon bons.

@34 - Brian Deer

I came out of a long stint (12 years in all) of university education 2 years ago. The typical student in Canada has student loans, mine totalled ~26000 CAD or ~13000 GBP at todays exchange rates (loans for only the first 5.5 years ... had a research stipend+teaching assistant salary in grad school).
This value is approximately the average student loan in Canada. Not sure how this compares to the UK.

Payments every month ... thank goodness the pound has done nothing but rise relative to the Canadian dollar.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

Liz @35: Wikipedia's article on Tucker Carlson mentions this gem:

Columnist Mickey Kaus quit [the Daily Caller] after Carlson refused to run a column critical of Fox News' coverage of the immigration policy debate.

Carlson also works for Fox News. So yes, we are talking about a suspect source.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

@Narad

Am I the only one who gets irritated when the momentum term is left out?

It's at rest, so you can leave out the momentum. And um, the rest mass as well, apparently, because quantum.

By justthestats (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

@41 - Narad

I become a little annoyed. I can't remember how many times I've come across people with disproofs of relativity based on E=mc^2 ... because how could a photon have energy if m=0!

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

@ #34

Won't happen. It's not the culture. This will all just go away.

The mass of the universe is negligible because if it were compressed down to the size of a ball (which couldn't happen because of electromagnetic forces) then its mass would be negligible? Did she really say that? And did she really say that if the mass is negligible then the value of "m" is 1? On the other hand, according to Douglas Adams,

The Universe is a very big thing that contains a great number of planets and a great number of beings. It is Everything. What we live in. All around us. The lot. Not nothing. It is quite difficult to actually define what the Universe means, but fortunately the Guide doesn't worry about that and just gives us some useful information to live in it.

Area: The area of the Universe is infinite.

Imports: None. This is a by product of infinity; it is impossible to import things into something that has infinite volume because by definition there is no outside to import things from.

Exports: None, for similar reasons as imports.

Population: None. Although you might see people from time to time, they are most likely products of your imagination. Simple mathematics tells us that the population of the Universe must be zero. Why? Well given that the volume of the universe is infinite there must be an infinite number of worlds. But not all of them are populated; therefore only a finite number are. Any finite number divided by infinity is zero, therefore the average population of the Universe is zero, and so the total population must be zero.

Art: None. Because the function of art is to hold a mirror up to nature there can be no art because the Universe is infinite which means there simply isn't a mirror big enough.

Sex: None. Although in fact there is quite a lot, given the zero population of the Universe there can in fact be no beings to have sex, and therefore no sex happens in the Universe.”

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

E=mc*2 becomes E=c*2 because m is negligible???? Maybe she has an alternative (sorry, integrative) theory of arithmetic.... Like the strange law of cancellation : To divide 64 by 16, just cancel the 6's. Similarly, to divide 98 by 49, cancel the 9's.

By DANIEL GAUTREAU (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

@ stewartt1982:

I think you got away fairly cheaply:
this story may make you feel so-

my cousin died suddenly 10 years ago, leaving a daughter who wanted to be an architect:
she was left an insurance policy from his employer and a year later, money from his father who also died, for her education ( I imagine both together equaled about 400000 in CAD). She acquired a bachelor's degree and a master's and now is working, evaluating buildings,
HOWEVER her mother still has a loan which she needed to compete her terminal degree.
I didn't dare ask how much the loan was for.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

@52 - Denice Walter

I count my blessings that I did my schooling in Canada where my tuition from 2000-2012 varied from 4500-7000 per annum (different schools and degrees). For Canada the 26000 CAD loan is about average but it was a bargain compared to a comparable education in the US.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

There appears to be no prerequisite for the course, so I suspect it is a "general interest" sort of thing.

Won’t happen. It’s not the culture. This will all just go away.

I agree, especially in view of my remark, above. I think it is actually likely that many people who took the course would welcome more of the same. If it were made into a core course in a normal academic program, then loud howling would certainly be justified.

I don't know how U of T works, but at my former institution of servitude all academic appointments, including those for part-time sessional instructors ("adjunct", in many places) came from the Board of Governors, so there was some barrier to crass nepotism or other favoritism.

@ Mephistopheles O'Brien

On the other hand, according to Douglas Adams,

IIRC, following the passage you quoted is a very appropriate footnote about UToronto situation, stating that this diatribe about the bigness of the universe is that you get for leaving the doors open during lunchtime and letting the first idiot walk in and writing down any sort of nonsense.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

It is hardly necessary to criticize Werner's arithmetic. She doesn't even comprehend the difference between mass and volume.

If one were to make a bowling ball with a mass of one percent of the total mass of the universe, and barring the existence of other objects of significant mass, how far would a bowling pin have to be from the ball to keep it from falling over/flying a great velocity due to the ball's gravity?

I count my blessings that I did my schooling in Canada where my tuition from 2000-2012 varied from 4500-7000 per annum (different schools and degrees). For Canada the 26000 CAD loan is about average but it was a bargain compared to a comparable education in the US.

My undergrad tuition was actually about $5000 a year*, back in 2005-2009. I did go to the cheapest four-year college in Washington state, though.** Being dirt poor actually had some benefits, in that in addition to a Pell grant, I also got a grant from the state of Washington that pretty much matched it. Jobs and scholarships rounded out the rest, which is how I managed to graduate without any debt. Getting a PhD, of course, is not something a smart person pays for, either.

I was honestly shocked and appalled at how expensive undergrad tuition is even for in-state students at the University of Michigan these days.

*I even paid it out like half of pocket during my second year, when I didn't have any financial aid except a couple scholarships. (Long story.) That was the year I lived in things like sheds and sailboats.

**I picked it because it was cheap and I heard you could get in fairly easy with a GED, and apparently they didn't look askance at 16-year-olds, not realizing that I probably could have gotten into most places I'd have wanted to. I'm glad I went there, though, in hindsight.

I count my blessings that I did my schooling in Canada where my tuition from 2000-2012 varied from 4500-7000 per annum (different schools and degrees). For Canada the 26000 CAD loan is about average but it was a bargain compared to a comparable education in the US.

My tuition back in the '80s was $25,000 a year IIRC, but not many paid rack rate. I was left with $10,000 in loans to be repaid over 10 years.

@57 - JP
I did my undergrad at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) (the Canadian province not the city in NJ). A small university, with a relatively low tuition, and not particularly world renowned. I picked it because it was in my home city and I could live at home. In hindsight I think it was for the best ... a good education with small class sizes where one was able to get know their professors (even in 'large' first year classes). Having demonstrated labs at UofT where class sizes were much larger (my graduate level courses were ~the same size as my more specialised undergraduate 1st and 2nd year courses) I think I choose wisely for undergrad.

Getting a PhD, of course, is not something a smart person pays for, either.

I always loved getting my stipend at the beginning of the year, then immediately seeing a large chunk disappear to pay tuition. I'm sure there is a good reason (or at least a reason) but not charging tuition and paying a smaller stipend somehow seems easier.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

I did my undergrad at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) (the Canadian province not the city in NJ). A small university, with a relatively low tuition, and not particularly world renowned.

I went here: I wouldn't say it's renowned, but it seems to a growing cachet the further east you go. "Oh, you went to Evergreen," I remember the chair of my department remarking when I was visiting the campus five years ago.

a good education with small class sizes where one was able to get know their professors (even in ‘large’ first year classes).

Yeah, same with Evergreen. The whole "getting to know your professors" aspect led to near-radioactive recommendation letters, I'm pretty sure.

I was also more than used to seminars by the time I got to grad school, too, not to mention writing research papers. I didn't realize just how good I had it until I heard some stories from my Russian students about 400-student lectures involving something called an "i-clicker."

I always loved getting my stipend at the beginning of the year, then immediately seeing a large chunk disappear to pay tuition. I’m sure there is a good reason (or at least a reason) but not charging tuition and paying a smaller stipend somehow seems easier.

I get a notice that I've been billed for tuition, but it's just paid on my behalf, which, yes, seems much easier. I also don't know if I could cope with that much money being deposited in my bank account and then parting with it immediately afterward.

Not unbalanced, no. Unhinged is the word.

By Guy Chapman (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

I count my blessings that I did my education post-Marine Corps so that Uncle Sugar picked up the tab for about 80% of it.

(whenever some well-meaning citizens thank me for my service I thank them for my master's).

From mothering.com on the piece. Haha.

"You posted "Required Readings/ Viewings for this week:"
What about the other 11 weeks? Easy to judge a class based on one week of required readings.

Besides, when you talk about a topic for a college class that week's readings are usually all about that specific topic. Looks like that week was about vaccine critics. This is a valid topic for research and study.

Poor woman was trying to get her students to actual compare this information to the normally accepted beliefs and studies to see if there was a difference in methods, results, implications, etc. Too see how they differed in logic, assumptions, etc. It's really quite an exquisite example of a college class.

It's unfortunate that book burners still exist. Freedom of literature, language, and science unfortunately doesn't just mean agreeing with whatever is considered true according to 1. the government, 2. religion, 3. the medical establishment, 4. your family, 5. etc.

The purpose of a college education is to read things you may or may not agree with and to learn to handle them - to critically analyze, to interpret, to read between the lines. If you believe that this woman had no right to teach something that you disagree with then you have other issues relating to freedom of speech and education. I wonder if you ever had to read and study something you didn't agree with? It's terribly valuable for cognition."

They really are something else...

" It's terribly valuable for cognition"

Yiiiiii! Another one on the cognition!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

The purpose of a college education is to read things you may or may not agree with and to learn to handle them – to critically analyze, to interpret, to read between the lines. If you believe that this woman had no right to teach something that you disagree with then you have other issues relating to freedom of speech and education. I wonder if you ever had to read and study something you didn’t agree with? It’s terribly valuable for cognition.”

This is established scientific fact , not a comparative literature course. Then again, most all of the sMothering critters aren't real big on science and critical-thinking.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink

What about the other 11 weeks? Easy to judge a class based on one week of required readings.

They couldn't find the syllabus (PDF)?

Tucker Carlson,geez.I am not surprised in the least.Tucker is a friend of Alex Jones and a 9/11 Truther.

I am given to believe that he aspires to Dead Breitbart levels of relevance. I doubt that he is as sincerely deranged as Jones; he's just a skeevy little ratfecker who goes where the money is. Also he wears a bowtie.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 08 Jul 2015 #permalink

@hewholaughs last:

If you wonder why your latest comment didn't show up, it's because you changed your e-mail address and the system saw it as a new commenter, and the first comment from all new commenters automatically go to moderation. This reminds me of the behavior of a certain other commenter, who used to change his e-mail address to various variants practically every day, if not every hour. I got fed up with it and no longer put up with such behavior. If you can't be bothered to use a consistent 'nym and e-mail address, I can't be bothered to re-approve you each time you change.

No, I didn't approve the comment. Use the e-mail address you started with if you want your comments to show up.

@ #1, #2, #3

999 times out of 1000 someone laughing on their own is indicative of psychosis, not victory.

By Douglas Barnes (not verified) on 08 Jul 2015 #permalink

999 times out of 1000 someone laughing on their own is indicative of psychosis, not victory.

Oh jeez, maybe that's why I have such a hard time getting a clean bill of mental health.

Naaaah, it's probably the extensive raft of pathologies.

Denise @ 26: Thanks, and yeah they like "neuro-" too. The worst of it is The Singularity, utter quack nonsense with the full endorsement of Google. The flashy garbage attracts its deluded devotees, but the flip side of that coin is that legit work in any of these areas can get tarred with the same brush, so everybody loses.

Eric Lund @ 27: The two-body problem: good point. I've heard about this before and it goes hand-in-hand with a particularly obnoxious aspect of the academic world: Shuffling people around geographically until they get tenure somewhere (or starve), by which point they have become completely disconnected from any sense of geographic roots (or they've starved).

Barefoot @ 43: But psychedelia is _good_, as long as one doesn't overdo, and as long as one doesn't engage in "psychedelic fundamentalism" ("it felt powerful therefore it's literal revealed truth as given"). Self-skepticism is a necessary skill for those sorts of things, as with any other state of consciousness including our "normal waking state" with all of its emotional biases.

Annie @ 63: That's all fine & fair in the humanities, for example literature. But science has right and wrong answers (as well as some very large gray zones where we don't have clear answers yet), and the answers don't care about our feelings. Try making a paper airplane that looks like a flower and see if it flies. See if it flies any better if you "really put your heart into it." And the problem with "believing in" wrong answers (such as homeopathy and anti-vax) is that trying to act on those answers makes people sick and kills them. Now imagine building an airliner that looks like a flower, and see how you feel about 200 dead bodies strewn across the runway. Does that make sense to you?

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 08 Jul 2015 #permalink

@Gray Squirrel

Annie pulled that quote from mothering.com. I gather from the "haha" that she's most likely not in agreement with it. ㋡

My tuition back in the ’80s was $25,000 a year IIRC

You're probably including room and board in that figure, and possibly some other fees. I recall my annual tuition bill (at a private university known among other things for its high tuition costs) crossing the $10k line while I was an undergraduate. The nominal dollar cost of attending the flagship state university of my state as an in-state student is now higher than that. And many of the students here are from out of state--even out of country (the Chinese are the most obvious contingent due to their numbers--it's no longer weird to hear conversations in Chinese on the streets of Universityville--but we see students from other countries as well). Foreigners can sometimes get work-study positions and private loans, but for any other kind of financial aid in the US you have to be a US citizen or permanent resident.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 08 Jul 2015 #permalink

I find it disturbing that Integrated medicine is basically sneaking into Universities. After I read this article I went onto my school website and sure enough it was there. Acupuncture, chiropractic, and biofeedback was all there. What's worse is that it's based on the medical and health sciences campus.

I dropped a sadarian screed at SBM in reply to Steve Novella's post on this today (7/8).
https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/university-of-toronto-coddles-quac…

While much of this applies to Orac's post as well, I commend the blinking box for mentioning Rick Halpern by name (this is rather obviously his show) and noting that his wife's class was a Special Topics course offered under the auspices of the Anthropology Department.

A couple corrections: "Aand... she's gone." "This should have been sufficient to produce two firings, not one." Nope. She wasn't fired, and she was never really 'there' in the first place. The UT PR peeps are trying to make the U seen more proactive by saying "she is no longer on the staff," hinting that they 'did the right thing' by dumping here. She was teaching one class as an adjunct. That's not being "on the staff". It's temp work; contracting; ends each term at the end of the class. What has happened is that UT has declared they will not enter another contract with Landau-Halpernwas to offer a section of their Special Topics course devoted to CAM.

The happy noises you're hearing coming from the vicinity of Scarborough are the chuckles and sighs of relief from the Health Studies faculty, as the controversy ginned up over the class has gotten Rick Halpern off their back, and he'll no longer be able to meddle with their curriculum to help his wife promote her homeoathy practice.

As Delphine says, this will all 'go away' because they're not going to dump Halpern over something as petty as getting his wife an adjunct gig. Given her dubious credentials even for a Health Studies course in woo, had he bullied Anthro into opening any kind of continuing position for her (say, a half-time instructorship) this bad press MIGHT pose a real threat to his position. As it happened, he's probably in the dog-house with his bosses and will be slowly bled dry by being denied promotion or new perks, and tighter reign/oversight on whatever power he has.

OF COURSE, Vivek Goel is going to defend everything and everyone involved in public as that is seen as 'protecting UTs reputation'. That's how bureaucracies work: deny everything to the outside world and TCB in private. The knives come out behind closed doors...

What’s next? Teaching young earth creationism in biology classes? Teaching astrology in astronomy class?

I don't know, but if so that will be the doing of the Pharmacy Department or an Integretive Medicine program in the Health SCIENCES. This was a class in Health STUDIES; ain't the same thing. Creationism, astrology, homeopathy, and anti-vax are not only allowable subjects for Anthropology, but quite pertinent exactly because some, uhh, 'questionable things' are going on under the rubric of 'legitimate science'.

Yes, Beth Landau-Halpern should never have been contracted to teach in this program – even if she kept her pedagogy free of her own partisanship, she has huge COI with the public positions she's taken in her 'professional' practice via endorsing CEASE 'therapy' and homeopathic treatment for ADHD. But Vivik Goel is right about one thing – as part of an Anthro program, Health Studies students ought to be well prepared to consider the course materials IN CONTEXT, in a spirit of critical analysis, and inquiry., as that context WILL have included enough material on where legit medical science stands on CAM. This isn't a field where students memorize the content of authoritative readings, and get evaluated by machine scored 'objective' tests. The purpose of assigning a reading is to generate student discussion and debate around the claims of the author, and the proper role of the instructor is to keep the discussion on track, and pose key questions via the Socratic method, to be a cheerleader for thinking-through the topics, not for any given perspective on them..

A kind of on topic sort of rant:

It drives me crazy. All kinds of woo. From antivax explanations that go too deeply into how vaccines might cause damage in the body to how some supplements or device or treatment might work ('oh! it's quantum!) or trying to argue why there isn't one major conspiracy that conveniently ties them all together to makes them work.

How in the world do you ever get smart enough to be able to explain that "quantum" is not a defense for homeopathy? Especially when you know enough to know quantum deals with matter and energy at atomic and subatomic levels, and you learned Avagadro's number in ninth grade chemistry, and nothing has demonstrated that water has memory.

For that matter, you are immune to the natural thing because you had a wonderful time learning about organic chemistry molecules in advanced science senior year, understand they have their own little names and end up showing up in the compounds... that everything is a "chemical" or can be described as a chemical name.

But I am too stupid to argue with antivax people or quantum wooists, iridologists, or even a really enthusiastic massage therapist. I get so frustrated with this.

Orac mentioned Lionel "derailed train" Milgrom. That bozo makes Humpty Dumpty look like Bertrand Russell. When he uses language, you can guarantee that whatever he tries to make it mean is WRONG, by which I mean it means something utterly different in the communities that formed the concepts and use them in actual, you know, thinking. An equal-opportunity crap artist, is manglings of 'Theory' are as loopy-awful as his manglings of 'Science'. Or worse, considering the wider acceptable free-play in the Humanities, from which he's still way, waaay off.

I'd say it's not his stylings per se that can melt the brains of honest-to-goodness physicists AND honest-to-goodness scholars of cultural studies/PoMo/yada-yada-yada. The melt comes from the heat of anger at the thought that even one human being might consider Milgrom knows what he's talking about. Thankfully, most 'theory' folk are safe from combustion in fits of quintillion K burning rage, as they have never heard of this putz, and have no cause to encounter his hyper-garbage in the course of their labors.

Yes, ignorance of the depths of WTF can be bliss. I'd curse Orac for the RI post that pointed me to Milgrom, but there's something to be said for the empathy developed by sharing another's pain... I feel you, my brother, I really do.

Oh, I have more posts about Milgrom. He's the gift, as far as blog fodder goes, that keeps on giving...

So what does your middle ground look like?
Because there is something a bit binary about it. Either you vaccinate enough people to either eradicate a disease (which we can do with significant effort and expense) or keep it mostly at bay or you do not. Because lets work really hard to make sure the grandkids don’t even need some of the sedef vaccinations anymore because it is gone makes more sense to me than lets work really hard to make sure the disease will always be with us because we will not ever do anything to make sure enough people are vaccinated against anything ever again.
Vaccinating 50% of the people 50% of the time (the absolute middle) just ensures the diseases can never be eliminated and no amount of sanitation or vitamin pills is going to do what the vaccine will.

Or do you pick 50% of the vaccines to keep mandating and just hope enough people volunteer for the rest that you never come across someone contagious with the other things?
Do you include the harms from the diseases in determining where “middle” is?
Do you just chuck all the science because we don’t actually spend the time and money it would take to fix the system, and do you acknowledge there can be bad science on both sides of the debate or is most pro-vaccine science bad and most anti-vaxx science is good no matter how many times it is found to be problematic? Or just put it all in a blender and hope the sludge is about 50% right

By kaymariya (not verified) on 12 Jul 2015 #permalink

FYI the exact copy of my comment @ #18 by a sound alike name was not done by me.

Because the nonsense comment #81 is spam.

Well, it's not exact. I see a link has been added, that I wouldn't click for love or money.

TraceRT shows me that the link @81 goes to a server in Turkey. I'll ZAG our host a note and suggest the comment be removed.

Seems to me Werner (and no doubt the rest) are applying homeopathic theory to physics. Namely, take a quantum physics theory, dilute it down until there isn't a particle of the original truth left, and parcel it as Quantum-Physics-Based Homeopathic Therapy.

E=mc*2 becomes E=c*2 because m is negligible???? Maybe she has an alternative (sorry, integrative) theory of arithmetic…. Like the strange law of cancellation : To divide 64 by 16, just cancel the 6’s. Similarly, to divide 98 by 49, cancel the 9’s

By sedef tedavisi (not verified) on 09 Aug 2015 #permalink

I was shocked to hear Indre Viskontas of Inquiring Minds podcast support this class at her alma mater! She presents a master class on how one can end up over one's head outside their field of expertise...

By Scott Young (not verified) on 10 Aug 2015 #permalink