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Given that computers are excellent at computation, one would think that we’d let them do a little bit of extra work to make colour blending look good.

Apparently not.

Physics! Science! Facts!  – Entertainment that edifies. :)

You’d think we would have given up on common sense by now…


Our resident health care professional takes issue with some of the statements made in the video.  As with most things on the internet, the best policy is trust, but verify.  Please take note of Bleatmop’s objections and corrections to what is being put forward as fact:

“At rest your hemoglobin is 99% saturated with oxygen.” False.

At rest, a healthy newborn runs a SPO2 of 99 – 100%. This rapidly declines with age to when you become an adult 92% or above is considered normal. The older you get, the worse your lungs work, to where many elderly naturally SPO2 at 88%. Therefore it is perfectly possible that hyperventilating can increase the oxygen level in your blood.

Furthermore, a SP02 does not equal the partial pressure of oxygen in your blood. While true that SPO2 from 1-99% does usually correlate to a specific PaO2, a SP02 of 100% can mean a PaO2 of 1% more to the amount it takes to create a hyperbaric accident, which is somewhere around double the normal amount of O2 in the blood. Therefore, while you cannot hypersaturate your hemoglobin, you can increase the total amount of O2 in your blood (note, blood does not equal red blood cells), making you be able to hold your breath longer.

What does this mean? Well, hyperventilating can actually increase the total oxygen in your blood beyond that what it takes to saturate your hemoglobin to 100%. The author is right in why hyperventilating causes drowning, as the PaCO2 does mediate your breathing response. However he did not prove that “more oxygen” isn’t why you are able to hold your breath longer. In fact he actually proved that more oxygen (in combination with less carbon dioxide) is why you can actually hold your breath until you pass out

If you want to take down somebody else’s argument, a certain familiarity with the nature of intellectual or philosophical (as opposed to playground) argument is required, so that you can construct your own counter-argument.  In an intellectual argument, the person putting forth an argument sets out a number of premises (statements of facts), which, when you add them together, at best makes it impossible for their conclusion to be false (deductive argument), or at least makes it much more likely that their conclusion is true (inductive argument).

If you want to show that somebody’s argument is wrongity wrong, there are two, and only two, tactics allowed:

  1. Show that at least one of the premises of the argument is untrue.
  2. Show that even if the premises of the argument are true, the conclusion does not follow logically and/or inductively.

Tactic #1 requires good research skills, including the ability to find good sources, and the consideration to provide links and references so that others can evaluate those sources.  Research does not include saying, “Well it’s never happened to me, and nobody whose opinion I consider valid has every described anything like this to me, therefore the person recounting their experience must be mistaken.”

Tactic #2 requires an understanding of formal logic and logical fallacies, as well as an understanding of inductive reasoning, for example, the scientific method and statistical inference.  Be sure you know what a Straw Man argument is, both so you don’t make one, and so you don’t go calling somebody else’s argument a straw man incorrectly.  Be familiar with Ad Hominem and Ad Hominem Tu Quoque fallacies, and again, refrain from using them, and don’t go accusing others of using them, unless you actually know what they are.  Understand that correlation does not equal causation, but that scientific research can still draw meaningful conclusions even if not all of it can meet the gold standard of perfectly-designed, randomly-assigned, double-blinded, longitudinal, etc etc etc experiments.

I know, I know… that’s a lot to ask of somebody who just wants to assert that their knee-jerk, market-wisdom-based, common-sense, status-quo-supporting opinion is Truth.  Especially since going through the work of checking facts and reading the research may prove you wrong, and then what do you do.

Orac brings the pain to the masters(?) of woo.


Just like using Vitamin C to treat cancer...

Just like using Vitamin C to treat cancer…

“It’s a case that has Canadians and the legal community buzzing.

Earlier this month Ontario Judge Gethin Edward ruled in favour of a First Nations girl and her family, who stopped chemotherapy to treat her acute lymphoblastic leukemia, choosing traditional medicine instead.

The judge rejected an application from McMaster Children’s Hospital that would have required the Children’s Aid Society to intervene in the case.”

Buzzing indeed.  Let us be clear up front – evidenced based medicine works.  Anything else is just a fine grade mixture of bullshit and the placebo effect that happened to work in that specific case on that specific day.   We can safely assume that “Traditional Medicine” falls into the later category and most definitely not the former.

“Edward ruled that it was the mother’s aboriginal right — which he called “integral” to the family’s way of life — to allow her to choose traditional medicine for her daughter.

While many hailed the decision as a victory for aboriginal rights, others call it a failure in the protection of child welfare”

While others like myself would be calling this a death sentence for the child in question.  Treating cancer with magical mumbo-jumbo almost always ends in tragedy.

“I’ve never seen a judge recognize a broad right for a First Nation like the Mohawk Nation to have their medical practices — their traditional ways of life regarding health and healing — protected by the Constitution under Section 35,” said Larry Chartrand, professor at the faculty of law. 

    “Chartrand specializes in aboriginal governance and health, and while he states that this decision is positive in terms of aboriginal rights, “the unfortunate circumstance is that it revolved around a fact situation where a little girl’s life is potentially at stake. So that makes the decision very difficult to appreciate.”

The ‘decision very difficult to appreciate my ass’ – Leave it to lawyers to miss the point.   We have this thing called medical science, it is the justified, tested and reviewed methods of saving lives.  Denying a child access to life saving treatment is neglect.

“McMaster doctors said she has a 90 to 95 per cent chance of survival on chemotherapy, but that they didn’t know of anyone who had survived acute lymphoblastic leukemia without the treatment.”

Traditional methods of healing in this case means death for the child.

“I understand the mother’s decision. I have a 12-year-old son, and I’m not sure I would make that decision myself under the circumstances. But I understand why, because of the impact of colonization, the distrust of the mainstream system, and the need to protect Mohawk culture — sometimes at all costs.”

If protecting Mohawk culture means sacrificing your child to woo, it may be time to rethink that aspect of Mohawk culture.  If the child dies because of this fanciful foray into neglect the parents should be charged with child endangerment and neglect causing death.   Welcome to the other end of the legal system – the one where murdering children, even for cultural reasons is against the law.

“A Florida health resort licensed as a “massage establishment” is treating a young Ontario First Nations girl with leukemia using cold laser therapy, Vitamin C injections and a strict raw food diet, among other therapies.

The mother of the 11-year-old girl, who can not be identified because of a publication ban, says the resort’s director, Brian Clement, who goes by the title “Dr.,” told her leukemia is “not difficult to treat.”

Vitamin C?  Raw Food?…   To treat lymphoblastic leukemia?  *shakes head*  Using woo to treat cancer, this is going to end badly for everyone.

Orac over at Respectful Insolence says it best:

“My view is that what matters the most is the life of the child and making sure that child is given her best shot at life by being treated with the best science-based medicine has to offer. Everything else is secondary and, to me, important only inasmuch as it helps or hinders achieving the goal of saving the life of the child. I don’t care much about whether I offend by criticizing a religion that would allow a child to die. I don’t care much if it bothers anyone that I criticized a racial, ethnic, or cultural group that facilitates the medical neglect of children. And I don’t really care that much, in the context of this case, about the historical grievances native peoples have based on past transgressions of the Canadian government. That’s not to say I don’t recognize them as important; rather, it’s that I do not accept them as valid reasons to let a child die.”

[Source 1: –  Aboriginal right to refuse chemotherapy for child spurs debate.]

[Source 2: -‘Doctor’ treating First Nations girls says cancer patients can heal themselves.]



Damn science, keeping me on my toes. :)


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