To Be Confirmed

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Posted on: August 15, 2009

This blog has now moved.


There was a story (advertisement) this morning on BBC News which spoke about a new biography of Michael Jackson by HarperCollins. This book, they boasted, had been compiled in record time by sticking to ‘some of the strictest deadlines ever in publishing history’.

They continued by describing how the day after Jackson died they decided to commission a new biography; it was imperative that they were the first. They got an author, James Aldis, and locked him away in an office where he was expected to write 10,000 new words on Jackson in 2 days. The picture deadline was a day later.  

From deciding to commission a book to collating the material took less than a week and this was something that HarperCollins was proud of. During the interview no probing questions were asked what-so-ever, so here are mine:

  • What was more important to HarperCollins, being first or producing a quality publication?
  • What kind of research can be done on an American icon without even going to the country?
  • How many of Jackson’s friends, family or enemies did James Aldis manage to speak to?
  • Were these 10,000 words fact checked?
  • Why was the picture researcher given an extra day to the author?
  • Who is James Aldis?

The last question I think is perhaps one of the most important since the book has been thrown together so quickly that HarperCollins haven’t even had time to put an author biography up on their website.

Now I don’t want to say outright that this book is poorly researched but I think it is the responsibility of the NEWS to at least ask the questions that seem glaringly obvious to me.

I have been taking part in a debate recently on Richard Wiseman’s blog after his post Chiropractic evidence: The curious case of the missing study.

This basically follows on from the British Chiropractic Association who are suing Simon Singh for libel following his comments in a guardian article.

Wiseman points to a controlled study by Olafsdottir and colleagues in 2001 which showed that chiropractic manipulation of the spinal cord worked no better than a placebo when treating infantile colic. This is of course key to the central argument of Simon Singh’s article which is that the BCA do not have the evidence to back up (no pun intended) their claims that they can treat certain types of childhood illnesses.

Richard Wiseman questions;

Yesterday I put in the search terms ‘chiropractic research infant colic’ into Google, and looked at the chiropractic sites that offer evidence about the efficacy of the chiropractic treatment for infant colic. I couldn’t find one that described the Olafsdottir study.

Of course, it is up to them which evidence they list, but I would have thought that a major study like that deserved a mention somewhere.

A perfectly reasonable question to ask and yet in the comments a couple of chiropractors/chiropractics (which is it?) have posted various comments complaining about the LACK of studies published and claiming that they have loads of studies just they are all sat on shelves of hundreds of universities about the land. They complain that big pharma are evil and that it’s all about money. None of the comments tackle the negative study or answer Richard’s initial question as to why chiropractic instiutions fail to mention this study.

Ignoring the evidence and arguing completely irrelevant and alternate points, attacking the source of the argument rather than the argument itself and changing the subject to attack other professions. These are the actions that we are used to seeing from homeopaths, creationalists and cults and now these are the actions we are seeing from chiropractors.

Yes that’s right, according to the British Homeopathy Association from June 14-21 is Homeopathy Awareness Week. Presumably the less of us that know about it the more powerful effect this week will have on the community.

So to help raise awareness here are the two basic rules of homeopathy;

Like cures like, so if you take something and it makes you alert, like caffeine, this will cure you if you are having trouble sleeping. Seriously I’m not making this up.

The more you dilute something, traditionally in water, the stronger it becomes.

Home made homeo

Take 1 part caffeine to 30 parts water then shake, then add 30 parts water another 100 times, keep shaking, and you have your very own homeopathic sleeping remedy! Lucky you.

This is the nonsense that the NHS decided to spend millions of tax payers cash on last year. And to think of the fuss we made over the expenses scandal!

And breath! Ahhhh. It’s good to make a new start don’t you think?

“They never admit how they have come to stop taking it literally. You have all these people criticising us for our crass literalism, where as fundamentalists are fundamentalists and yet these moderates don’t admit how they have come to be moderate. What does moderation consist of, it consists of having lost faith in all of these propositions, or half of them, because of the hammer blows of science and secular politics. Religion has lost its mandate on a thousand questions and moderates tend to argue that this is somehow a triumph of faith, faith is somehow self enlightening, where as really it is being enlightened from outside.” Sam Harris

Wham bam thank you Sam.