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Antiscience: how to make lots of money... and get people killed

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

This is old news but it was brought to my attention recently so I thought why not share it. Not about sound, but (anti)science.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADE_651

Product page (archived)

 

First some numbers:

sold for as much as $60,000 per unit

Iraqi government is said to have spent £52 million ($85 million) on useless devices

.. so pretty expensive and even governments bought it, in large quantities.

 

Pseudoscientific descriptions of how it works are given:

The cards are claimed to be designed to "tune into" the "frequency" of a particular explosive or other substance named on the card.
 
The device is said to work on the principle of "electrostatic magnetic ion attraction".

 

Some break-in like process is required:

The cards were supposedly "programmed" or "activated" by being placed in a jar for a week along with a sample of the target substance to absorb the substance's "vapours".

 

The device was completely useless, but once you invest a lot of money ...

 

Typical excuses are given:

using the device properly is more of an art than a science: "If we are tense, the device doesn't work correctly. I start slow, and relax my body, and I try to clear my mind."

 

The well known "I don't care how it works, all I know is that it does work":

"Whether it's magic or scientific, what I care about is detecting bombs.

 

If it doesn't work it's operator error:

any deficiencies were due to defective training in the device's use

 

 

The shocking news is that the device was invented roughly 10 years ago, but the founder of the company was not convicted until April 2013. Keep in mind that this device got people killed in all those years of use.

 

Just like with speaker cables, James Randi offered $1 million "to anyone who can prove the device's effectiveness as far back as October 2008". Nobody won the challenge. In case of the latter nobody even responded to Randi.

Here's the jref article and video.

 

 

---

 

When I first heard about it I thought it was a joke.. then I was shocked. What do you think?

(Keep in mind not to discuss politics as it is forbidden according to the TOS.)


Edited by xnor - 6/6/13 at 4:48am
post #2 of 33
Sell Singlepower amps.......
post #3 of 33
Quote:

Originally Posted by xnor View Post

 

Just like with speaker cables, James Randi offered $1 million "to anyone who can prove the device's effectiveness as far back as October 2008". Nobody responded to the challenge.

 

That's not true.

 

Michael Fremer responded to the challenge. And then Randi disingenuously pulled the rug out from under him.

 

se

post #4 of 33

Yeah, I felt the same way when I read that a few days ago.  Not shocked I guess, but dismayed.  Not surprised, but wishing it weren't as prevalent as it is.  But nothing new.

 

30 years ago, without too many specifics, I was working where a 1 million gallon tank had  liquid with a ph of 4.2 in it.  It was desired to get that up to 7 or close.  The method I was ordered to follow was pumping it down halfway each day.  And filling it with water having a ph of 7.  My boss thinking half of 4.2 and 7 becomes a tank with ph of 5.6.  Then do it again and it will become 6.3 which is thinking these values just average. 

 

When I used my high school chemistry knowledge to explain the ph scale is a logarithmic measure of hydrogen ions.  That you need to use the molarity in figuring out what the resulting ph would be etc. etc.  I of course got nowhere.  In his mind you had two numbers and you can average numbers.  Guess I lost him at logarithmic.

 

In any case, he didn't understand it, and wanted no part of letting someone who did help him.  6 weeks later (yes dumping half and adding water every single day) without getting the result he wanted he dumped it all.  Even when my 'scientific predictions' (said with extreme sarcasm and disdain by my boss) proved utterly correct, he wasn't convinced one bit.  Science wasn't going to change his mind no matter how reliable it was.   Just one of many examples I have seen. 

 

Guess the recurring theme is how little science people understand in general.  How willing they are to benefit from it, and still ignore it for the slightest of reasons when they want to do so.  This is not rational, but humans (even scientists) are not rational creatures.  Occasionally managing rationality is quite a feat in fact for creatures of shimmering emotion. 

post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post

Guess the recurring theme is how little science people understand in general.

I've met lots of science people and have to agree with you. Even conveying an unsophisticated meaning in everyday English is often too much for them. Occasionally managing to express even a simple idea is quite a feat in fact for creatures so bereft of social skills.
post #6 of 33
p.s. only teasing.
post #7 of 33

The internet is a dangerous place. A large group of people can get together, and one can say something ridiculous. If enough people agree, and spend huge amounts of time reading testimonies from other people that agree, they might fall victim themselves. 

post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

 

That's not true.

 

Michael Fremer responded to the challenge. And then Randi disingenuously pulled the rug out from under him.

 

se

From what i understand, it was neither Fremer nor Randi who declined the challenge, instead it was the cable manufacturer who pulled out of it.

 

http://gizmodo.com/315250/pear-cable-chickens-out-of-1000000-challenge-we-search-for-answers


Edited by Greenleaf7 - 6/6/13 at 2:15am
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

That's not true.

 

Michael Fremer responded to the challenge.

I should have been more clear. The "nobody responded" was about the useless device challenge, not the cables. Will edit to make this more clear.

 

 

As everyone may have noticed, I tried to show similarities to certain audio components.

 

 

Quote:
And then Randi disingenuously pulled the rug out from under him.

Huh? Pear "lost interest", but Fremer was (is?) still welcome to do the test with cables he provides on his own.


Edited by xnor - 6/6/13 at 5:15am
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

Sell Singlepower amps.......

 

This looks perfectly safe:

 

 

from here: amp blew up

 

 

But it doesn't have to be unsafe or even life-threatening. I can think of several expensive audio-related products that are expensive and don't do anything (marketing says otherwise) other than filling the seller's pockets.


Edited by xnor - 6/6/13 at 6:07am
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenleaf7 View Post

From what i understand, it was neither Fremer nor Randi who declined the challenge, instead it was the cable manufacturer who pulled out of it.

 

http://gizmodo.com/315250/pear-cable-chickens-out-of-1000000-challenge-we-search-for-answers

 

That Pear opted not to supply cables for Fremer's challenge was irrelevant as at the time Pear pulled out, there were still two other cables on the table that Fremer and Randi were negotiating about. But Randi was so intent on wanting to mock and impugn both Fremer and Pear, when Pear pulled out, Randi impugned Fremer and declared the challenge over.

 

I'd always had respect for Randi until that incident. But no more.

 

se

post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

I should have been more clear. The "nobody responded" was about the useless device challenge, not the cables. Will edit to make this more clear.

 

 

Ah, gotcha.

 

Quote:

 

Huh? Pear "lost interest", but Fremer was (is?) still welcome to do the test with cables he provides on his own.

 

That's not true either.

 

When Pear withdrew their offer to provide cables for the challenge, Randi declared the challenge over, even though there were still two other cables on the table that Fremer and Randi were negotiating about. Randi then engaged in some first class weaseling to try and cover his ass. It was shameless. I was there when it all went down and was also privy to the EMail exchanges between Fremer and Randi.

 

se

post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

When Pear withdrew their offer to provide cables for the challenge, Randi declared the challenge over, even though there were still two other cables on the table that Fremer and Randi were negotiating about. Randi then engaged in some first class weaseling to try and cover his ass. It was shameless. I was there when it all went down and was also privy to the EMail exchanges between Fremer and Randi.

I don't think this is true - please provide sources. JREF never backed out of the challenge, which was, in case you don't remember:

Quote:
We are asking you [Michael Fremer] – and/or Adam Blake – to significantly differentiate between a set of $7,250 Pear Anjou cables and a good set of Monster cables, or between a set of $43,000 Transparent Opus MM SC cables and the same Monster cables – your choice of these two possible scenarios… This would have to be done to a statistically significant degree, that degree to be decided.

Pear withdrew their offer (despite their confidence in their product, LOL).

Fremer called Randi a liar for saying that he (Fremer) withdrew the challenge, which Randi clearly didn't say. Randi said Pear withdrew and Fremer can still do the test, period. Fremer went on saying that he's going to use his own "reference" cables. So he changed the parameters of the challenge which he already had agreed to. This of course is unacceptable.

 

It's like setting up a test between Coca-Cola and Pepsi and then saying: "Oh, but I'm going to use my own secret Cola mix for the test instead of Coca-Cola."

 

Afaik Fremer is still free to invest/loan/steal/whatever the cables mentioned in the challenge and do the test.


Edited by xnor - 6/6/13 at 7:35am
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

I don't think this is true - please provide sources. JREF never backed out of the challenge, which was, in case you don't remember:

 

What I said was, Randi declared the challenge over once Pear withdrew their offer to provide some cables. "Third – and most interesting – this retreat by Adam Blake effectively closes the current challenge, much to the relief of both Fremer and Blake, of course."

 

At the time Randi did this, there were still two other cables on the table. The Transparents and Fremer's own Tara Labs cables. Early on, Fremer told Randi via EMail that before he agreed to the Pears, he wanted to get them and listen to them before agreeing to proceed. And it was at that time that Fremer made the suggestion that he use his own Tara Labs cables which he was already intimately familiar with. Randi told Fremer that he would actually prefer that option, but that he had to check with this advisors first. However at the time Pear withdrew and Randi declared Fremer's challenge over, he had not consulted with his advisors and had not taken Fremer's Tara Labs cables off the table. So as I said, at the time Randi declared the challenge over and disingenuously pulled the rug out from under Fremer, there were still two other cables on the table.

 

Quote:
Randi said Pear withdrew and Fremer can still do the test, period.

 

No. Randi declared Fremer's challenge over the moment Pear withdrew their offer to supply cables, adding "We’re now looking at the list of others who have expressed interest in taking the challenge."

 

Quote:
So he changed the parameters of the challenge which he already had agreed to. This of course is unacceptable.

 

No, Fremer did not change the parameters of the challenge which he had already agreed to. There was never an agreement at the time Randi pulled the rug out from Fremer. At that time, Fremer and Randi were negotiating an agreement, i.e. Fremer using his own Tara Labs cables pending approval of Randi's advisors. And even if they had not agreed to Fremer's cables, the Transparent cables were still on the table.

 

Again, Randi jumped the gun and disingenuously pulled the rug out from under Fremer just so he could impugn Pear and Fremer, "Actually, I must admit that this was a rather clever way of squirming out of the huge dilemma in which these two blowhards found themselves."

 

Fremer didn't squirm out of anything. At the time Randi wrote that, the last thing Fremer had heard from Randi was that he would prefer that Fremer use his own cables pending approval of his advisors. And at the time Randi wrote that, he had NOT consulted his advisors about Fremer's cabels. And again, the Transparents were still on the table.

 

As I said, Randi was shameless.

 

EDIT: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/102-blake-withdrawls-from-pear-cable-challenge.html

 

se


Edited by Steve Eddy - 6/6/13 at 8:07am
post #15 of 33

As only the Gizmodo article has been linked, here's Fremer's side of the story.  If he has the emails to back it up it would seem Randi is much more a sensationalist than a scientist.

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