Thursday 8 October 2009

Fighting nonsense

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. I’m trying hard to think of a recent example of someone NOT being hugely gullible and naïve. I had a boss years ago who loved to remark that “common sense wasn’t”. Wasn’t common, he meant. If you look back over the history of our largely pathetic species you’ll see that apart from the occasional moments of generosity, kindness and heroism it is largely characterised by nastiness, naiveté and stupidity.

You see this both at the large-scale, historical level but also at the micro level. In other words in my email Inbox.

As you may have seen over the last few weeks we’ve mentioned a variety of very suspicious establishments that offer so-called qualifications for nothing other than cash. These call themselves universities but are no more than post boxes, email addresses and web sites. Correction, they’re no more than bank accounts. All you have to do is send them your cash, pretend that you’ve learned something and you get a degree of varying importance back by post. The last one wanted no more than $850 for a PhD, the exam for which was multiple choice! I can just imagine the questions. Q1. Are you going to tell your prospective employers that you bought this crappy degree online? Answer 1: Yes, I’m an honest fraud. Answer 2: No, I’m a fraud, a cheat and a liar.

Following these articles we got an email. No, I don’t mean the one from the “University” in question (The “University” of SouthCentral Los Angeles) that threatened to engage their lawyers. This email came from a reader who had a question. He said:

“I was about to apply for one of those degrees at USCLA. What you wrote made me think twice. However, my question is, are there any universities that would offer you a degree in one year? Genuinely speaking.”

Well, I suppose it’s good that I helped him think twice about getting a fake degree but is he really serious? Does he really think there are REAL universities that award degrees in a year? In case you’re in doubt, there aren’t. You can’t get a genuine degree that quickly, you really can’t. You certainly can’t over the internet. You most certainly can’t just by handing over a chunk of cash.

Then there was the other question we had. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence but just after we’d done a radio show on pseudoscience we were contacted by someone about one of the “health” devices that had been mentioned on the show.

This was the QXCI machine, otherwise known as EPFX or more recently the “SCIO”. This is a box of electronics about which some astonishing claims are made. The South African web site that is used to market this device claims that it:
“is an incredibly acurate (sic) biofeedback stress reduction system, combining the best of biofeedback, stress reduction, Rife machines, homeopathic medicine, bioresonance, electro-acupuncture, computer technology and quantum physics”

The web site explains how this device works. See if you can understand any of this tripe. Apparently it’s “multi-layer faclity enables dysfunction unravelling”. It is also “Equivalent to radonic operation”. Best of all it explains that “Most computers are binary: 1 or 0. Quantum software is trinary - basis for artificial intelligence”.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering what QXCI means, let me tell you. It stands for “Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface”. Here’s your free consumer tip for the week. Anyone who uses the word “quantum” when they are trying to sell you something is a fraud or a fool. Or both.

I could go on giving you examples of this hogwash but I think you’ve probably heard enough. This nonsense was written by someone who knows nothing about anything. They’re just using a jumble of meaningless words they’ve seen somewhere that sound good. I think you can get a feel for how respectable these people are elsewhere on the site. They offer a variety of workshops on alternative health including some based on the work of Hulda Clarke. “Dr” Clarke was famous for her bizarre, dangerous and frankly stupid theories about disease. She maintained that every single disease was caused by a combination of parasites and pollutants. She claimed that her remedies could cure cancer, diabetes and AIDS. Clarke (who died earlier this year) was a quack and a charlatan with a range of fake degrees. Anyone who offers services based on her theories is another fool or fraud.

To expand my understanding a little further I phoned the people in South Africa to ask about their SCIO device. They did indeed claim that it could cure “any disease”. They also told me that anyone can use it because when you buy the device you get a training package built in. So how much does this silly machine cost? R200,000.

So in answer to the question we received, no, we don’t think you should waste your money on this silly machine. Here’s one final reason why you shouldn’t. The US Food and Drug Administration have imposed a ban on importing the device into the USA. In an interview with the Seattle Times a spokesman for the FDA said:
“This is pure, blatant fraud. The claims are baloney. These people prey in many cases on consumers who are desperate in seeking cures for very serious diseases.”

Amusingly the inventor of the machine, the self-proclaimed “Professor” Bill Nelson (who also performs as a tranvestite singer under the name Desiré Dubounet) is now on the run in Hungary, a fugitive from US justice, on the run from fraud charges.

Do you really want to use a device that is based on fraud and baloney and was invented by a man who calls himself Desiré?

This week’s stars
  • Colin in the butchery at Spar at Kgale Shopping Centre for being charming, helpful and friendly.
  • The team at Incredible Connection for responding to a problem with professionalism and style and ending up with another very happy customer.

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