Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wikileaks: Does nothing useful except controversy

So called WikiLeaks and Julian Assange's efforts to leak huge amounts of US documents only serves to make US look bad, and does nothing really to help the situation.

While I agree that US must have accountability for its actions, much of the leaked documents only serves to embarrass US and allies, and  therefore, does not really improve the situation.

In fact, only Western countries would allow such leaks to continue. All the leaks do is destabilize the situation.

I'd be far more impressed if he managed to leak North Korea documents, or Iranian documents. As is, he's just a gossiper who managed to dig up some juicy stuff.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another day, another "scam": Hexagonal Water Revitalizer

A local TV station is showing "Water Revitalizer" which supposedly produces a purer "hexagonal water" which is supposedly better for you. (in case you are in the SF Bay Area, it's on the ICN channel, I think it's 26-4 or something like that)

First of all, there is no such thing as hexagonal water. It's something invented by quacks as "pseudo-science" to explain the hexagonal shape crystals the water forms when it freezes, and claims if you can generate hexagonal water it's better for you. Why? Nobody can actually explain.

Chemically it's exactly the same as normal water. It doesn't go through any sort of filter or purification in this special pitcher. All it does, as far as I can tell, is it uses induction to 'spin' the water (kinda like that Nu Wave oven demo). How that generates hexagonal water? No ****ing clue.

Yet you can find one for sale on Amazon for $500 USD ?!?!?!  AND books that touts the supposedly benefits.

It's gotten so bad, even WIRED magazine have an article busting this scam.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

I *hate* idiots, I really do: the people defending Four Loko drinks

People "defending" Four Loko are claiming it's all politics when it comes to Four Loko, on how the government is a conspiracy to defend the big alcohol makers, and so on. Here's one such example, placed under "humor"

Four Loko is a malt liquor (12% alcohol), flavored with fruit so it tastes sort of like a juice drink, AND reinforced with caffeine (156 mg, about a cup of coffee), usually served cold and cheap.

This is a deadly combination, as the combo is designed to make you drink more.

1) Convenient package -- pop open a can and chug, no mixing required
2) Gives a heavy buzz... malt liquor is cheap and high alcohol content
3) Cold drinks in a can -- chug and chug some more, esp. with the fruity flavors
4) Stimulants keep you awake -- so you can chug some more

Before you know it, you have alcohol poisoning... severe overdose of alcohol, and a visit to the ER, or heaven.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pharmanex scanner... money making machine or just a scam?

Nu Skin EnterprisesImage via Wikipedia
Just the other day I got an offer that some body is bring some sort of machine from UC (that's University of California) to do some sort of health scan for free. I was already skeptical.

So the machine arrived... It's about the size of two large shoes stacked on top of each other. It's labelled Pharmanex S2. There's a "blue-laser" on one end. I was supposed to wash my hands and have it scan me for my antioxidant levels.

I scored terrible, as I guesed I would. And I expected, the lady operating the machine started promoting some vitamins called Lifepak Nano. I thanked her and left, and pulled out my Moto Droid to look up the company.

There's plenty of information, but they all just copy each other. The gist is simple: Pharmanex is owned by NuSkin, the cosmetics MLM. (I am somewhat familiar with Nu Skin as my aunt was a distributor once upon a time)  Pharmanex "BioPhotonic" scanner is real.

What does it do? It supposedly scans your skin for presense of skin keratonids, an anti-oxidant. It supposedly is an accurate measure for your overall body antioxidant level, supposedly higher is better. And of course, their Lifepak Nano will help boost you antioxidant level, so suppose you take our supplements for a month, come back and get another scan, we guarantee your score will be better!

There's an itch in my brain that this starts to sound very scammy, as there is no third-party research in any sort of major review that supports the conclusions. Nothing on WebMD, Mayo Clinic, or such. Any such reviews are cited either from or the few places that have one of these machines.

The science is real... up to a point. Raman Spectroscopy is a way to scan tissue for presence of certain stuff. The original method was developed to scan for Lutein, that thing good for your eyes, without poking a needle into your eyeball and suck out some fluids.

The only test that supposedly proves this machine is useful is a study funded by Pharmanex itself in a clinical trial in China (2006?) on about 100 people. Supposedly 100 people get blood drawn AND skin tested by this scanner and there's a correlation between the levels of skin antioxidant and the blood antioxidant. However, this test had not been duplicated at all.

Furthermore there is no proof that high levels of antioxidant in your body is better for you.
Thus, this machine is basically a self-justifying proposition. This machine "proves" you need more vitamins.

You can probably get better score by just drinking a cup of carrot juice very day for 3 weeks.

So it's not a scam per se... The only thing they guarantee, that you'll score better on their machine, is absolutely true. Whether it will actually help your overall health, well, they did not make any promise about that at all. That would be illegal under FDA guidelines.
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