Introducing Another Anti-Science Tory


10:23 am - October 16th 2009

by Unity    


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As was amply demonstrated during the debate on the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, the Conservative Party has more than its fair share of mouth-breathing morons festering away on its backbenches.

But for sheer unadulterated nuttery even Nadine Dorries struggles to live down to the standards of David Tredinnick, the Eton-educated Member of Parliament for Bosworth.

Thus far is his parliamentary career of 22 years, Tredinnick cuts a noteworthy figure only for having been suspended from the House of Commons for 20 days for accepting a payment of £1,000 in return for asking a question in the House of Commons about an entirely fictitious drug – (no, not Cake, unfortunately) – losing his position as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (unpaid bag carrier) in the process; and for having spent a little over £500 of taxpayers money on a piece of Astrology software, and associated training, which he claimed was to help with a parliamentary speech on alternative medicines.

Given that the only previous occasion on which Tredinnick waxed lyrical on the subject of astrology was in 2001, I must assume that the speech in question was the one he gave on Wednesday in the course of an adjournment debate, in which case, and speaking as a taxpayer, I’d very much like my fucking money back.

The Quackometer has already started to pick over some of Tredinnick’s more delusional, and wholly untruthful remarks, although for sheer entertainment value it would be remiss of me not to highlight one particularly spectacular piece of outright lunacy:

I could have referred to radionics, for example, for which a double-blind trial is almost impossible, yet it is very popular because people believe that it gives them the ability to get remote healing. We need to think out of the box here. As with healers who can do remote healing, it is no good people saying that just because we cannot prove something, it does not work. The anecdotal evidence that it does is enormous. I know that the Minister is a forward thinker, and I believe that the Department needs to be very open to the idea of energy transfers and the people who work in that sphere. Will she comment further on that?

Like many, if not most, advocates of woo, the idea that the plural of anecdote isn’t data, let alone evidence, is one that utterly fails to register with Tredinnick, as does the simple proposition that there is absolutely no plausible scientific mechanism within either biology or physics that could account for ‘radionics’ for the simple reason that what he’s actually talking about here is magic – plain old-fashioned pig ignorant witch-doctoring ju-ju.

That said, his speech is worth a look simply for it containing perhaps the most spectacularly misconceived and idiotic attempt at playing the race card that I think I’ve ever seen in my life – and believe me I’ve seen a few:

In 2001 I raised in the House the influence of the moon, on the basis of the evidence then that at certain phases of the moon there are more accidents. Surgeons will not operate because blood clotting is not effective and the police have to put more people on the street.

I am arguing for more research. I have been criticised for raising the subject, but the criticism is generally based on a misunderstanding. It is based on the idea that I am talking about the stuff that we see in the newspapers about star sign astrology, but I am not. I am talking about a long-standing discipline—an art and a science—that has been with us since ancient Egyptian, Roman, Babylonian and Assyrian times. It is part of the Chinese, Muslim and Hindu cultures. Criticism is deeply offensive to those cultures, and I have a Muslim college in my constituency.

The opposition is based on what I call the SIP formula—superstition, ignorance and prejudice. It tends to be based on superstition, with scientists reacting emotionally, which is always a great irony. They are also ignorant, because they never study the subject and just say that it is all to do with what appears in the newspapers, which it is not, and they are deeply prejudiced, and racially prejudiced too, which is troubling.

The  lunar cycle thing crops up all over the place with stupefying regularity and, on closer examination, invariably proves to be a load of bollocks.

The Indy ran just such a piece back in January, in its science news section (FFS), which included the claim that:

A study in Florida of murders and aggravated assaults showed clusters of attacks around the full moon.

That particular study (Lieber and Sherin, 1972) was debunked years ago after other research found that the study has used dubious statistical methods. When the data from the study was re-evaluated using proper statistical methods the  pattern claimed by Lieber and Sherin disappeared.

That same article also drags up another hoary old lunar chestnut:

…a four-year study into car accidents found that the lowest number happened during the full-moon day, while the highest number was two days before the full moon. Accidents were more frequent during the waxing than the waning phase.

Stop me if you’ve heard that one before:

Car accidents occur 14 percent more often on average during a full moon than a new moon, according to a study of 3 million car policies by the U.K.’s Churchill Insurance Group Plc.

That’s Bloomberg reporting a classic piece of PR Reviewed ‘research’ in 2003, and that same ‘study’ was reported elsewhere as showing a 50% increase in accidents during a full moon. Ohhhh yes!

However, my own personal favourite has to be a 1982 study by Templer, Veleber, and Brooner, which claimed to have found evidence that showed a unusual number of car accidents occurred during the evening around both new and full moons, but when that was checked by a far less credulous group of researchers they discovered that during the period covered by the study, an unusually high number of full and new moons had fallen on weekends, when car accidents increase anyway due, in part, to the number of people who’re dumb enough to try driving home after a night on the piss.

Conversely, meta-analyses of 37 separate studies by Rotten and Kelly (1985) and almost 50 studies by Ivan Kelly (2002) found that the phase of the moon had no significant effect on human behaviour. Rotten and Kelly’s study focussed particularly on studies of suicides, psychiatric admissions and crime, all old favourites amongst the ‘Lunar Effect’ fucknuts, and found that correlations with the moon’s phase ‘accounted’ for no more that 0.03% of the monthly variation.

I’ve included all that just to emphasise the point that Tredinnick is talking complete and utter bollocks when he suggests, in that speech, that the Department of Health should seriously entertain the idea of opening taxpayer-funded branches of Hogwarts in NHS hospitals, before getting to the real meat, which is the utterly idiotic suggestion that scientists react badly to so-called alternative therapies out of superstition, ignorance and prejudice – and not just any old kind of prejudice but racial prejudice.

The suggestion that skeptics are at all superstitious is complete and utter rubbish, of course, but there may be some truth to the proposition that some of us react ’emotionally’ to proponents of woo – after all there are only so many occasions on which you can stand being regaled with the same old crap before you start contemplating whether or not it might be much easier to simply have an explanation of the scientific method embossed on decent length of 2×4 so you can try beating into the twat’s head in the vain hope that something might stick – maybe a nail or two if you lucky and have prepared properly in advance.

Some might be inclined to defend such practices as being ‘traditional’ or part of someone’s culture; not me – there’s nothing traditional or cultural that I can see in the practice of negligent homicide.

So, yes, I’ll freely cop to a charge of prejudice on this one because when I go and see a doctor I expect them to make diagnosis based on evidence of symptoms and clinical testst, where relevant, and then prescribe treatment based on the best available evidence, not cast a fucking horoscope.

Is that really such an unreasonable thing to ask?

And when are people going to wake up to the fact that the pro-woo, anti-science crowd aren’t just a bunch of harmless eccentrics or a bit of a minor irritation, but rather a positive fucking menace whose delusional peddling of unscientific beliefs and worthless quackery makes a positive contribution to thousands of unnecessary deaths around the world every year.

(Full version, with more gags/swearing and ridicule, over here)

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Science

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Reader comments


This is the most entertaining rant I have read in weeks.

Whilst it is not particularly interesting to say so, I absolutely agree with everything you have said.

Should the ass hat in question (David Tredinnick) fall ill, one wonders whether he would resort to ‘ye famous homeopathy’ himself, rather than visiting a fucking hospital, or other medical establishment…

Well – I really, really hope so.

Very interesting, I would expect the Tories to be scornful of “alternative” treatments (seeing them as the tools of hippies) rather than endorsing them.

Wonderful stuff.

When Stephen Pollard can – accurately, and without hypocrisy – describe you as “a man who has a reputation of being seriously thick” you know you’re in trouble.

I’ve not come across ‘radionics’ before, but it really is double-double-toil-and-trouble stuff. What a joke.

Fantastic post, though I’d add the Left and the Greens are equally as vulnerable to charges of soft racism and epistemic relativism as the Tories. Odd that there are so many minority ethnics practicing ‘Western’ medicine in the UK – almost as if the principles are universal.

Still, if you are going to make a case for alternative medicine you’d be better off consulting the stars than a science book. At least he’s consistantly bonkers. Pseudoscience which gives the appearance of real science worries me more.

“the idea that the plural of anecdote isn’t data, let alone evidence, is one that utterly fails to register with Tredinnick,”

one of the best lines i’ve ever read on a blog!

will definitely steal this in future.

still playing whataboutery to protect the Tories I see shatterface…

‘still playing whataboutery to protect the Tories I see shatterface…’

Still trying to smear anyone you disagree with as a Tory?

Pathetic.

When you learn the scientific method you can join the discussion with the grown ups.

@7 Paul Sagar.
You just don’t read the right blogs.

On main article:
I happen to be old enough to remember when parliament was full of eccentrics and cranks and politics was more entertaining for it. More nutters NOW!

BTW this guy may believe in astrology but Gordon Brown believes there is nothing seriously wrong with the UK economy. Who is more seriously deluded?

Still trying to smear anyone you disagree with as a Tory?

Not really – plenty of people disagree with me. But most of them don’t shill for the Tories while claiming to be lefties, and then trolling me all their spare time.

When you learn the scientific method..

oh please. Don’t twist your arm out of your socket patting yourself on the back for a comment that didn’t actually add anything to the original blog post.

10. Shatterface

‘Not really – plenty of people disagree with me. But most of them don’t shill for the Tories while claiming to be lefties, and then trolling me all their spare time.’

Why don’t you search through my comments of the last year or so for my ‘support’ of Tory policies, rather than my expressions of hatred of New Labour and my amused contempt for the Woo Greenies?

‘oh please. Don’t twist your arm out of your socket patting yourself on the back for a comment that didn’t actually add anything to the original blog post.’

Says the guy who did a cut and paste job on global warming ‘denialism’ at the BBC without any evidence he knows what carbon is, then deleted Frank Fisher for daring to question him.

Great OP.

Anyone interested in reading the fool’s speech can find it here on TheyWorkForYou. A commenter there wrote, “Rather than offer polite praise, it could have been more productive for the minister to hint more strongly that David Tredinnick needs to consider the scientific arguments more deeply. Contempt for science is a problem in this country. This is not helped by ministers treating unscientific views as if they were as valid as scientific views.”

Unity, given the fact you’ve taken down these nutcases time and time again, isn’t it about time you applied this lengthy, dissective method to some bigger targets?

13. Shatterface

‘Unity, given the fact you’ve taken down these nutcases time and time again, isn’t it about time you applied this lengthy, dissective method to some bigger targets?’

Eady has been overturned on Simon Singh so you can really cut loose!

Not yet…

Simon has been granted leave to appeal Eady’s ruling, and Justice Laws made some telling comments in allowing Simon’s application, but there’s still another hearing to go before the situation is fully turned around.

15. Shatterface

I always thought he used the term ‘bogus’ as a euphemism for ‘bullshit’, which, although impolite, can’t be twisted into an accusation of fraud by malicious prosecutors.

Says the guy who did a cut and paste job on global warming ‘denialism’ at the BBC without any evidence he knows what carbon is, then deleted Frank Fisher for daring to question him.

Oh there are plenty of climate change denying nuts on that thread – FF was deleted for being an abusive troll… something you like to do increasingly these days.

17. Shatterface

‘Oh there are plenty of climate change denying nuts on that thread – FF was deleted for being an abusive troll… something you like to do increasingly these days.’

So two hours on, still no evidence I’m a Tory?

As to trolling, I replied reasonably to Unity’s article and you responded by calling me a Tory shill. A bit feeble, isn’t it?

And if you haven’t noticed we’ve moved on to talk about Simon Singh…

18. Shatterface

Anyone got a link to the BCA’s original press release where they accused Singh of being motivated by ‘malice’?

That sounds like a clear case of defamation to me.

19. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs.)

If you’ve got…feelings…for Sunny, just tell him, Shatterface! He won’t eat you!

20. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs.)

Leastways, not unless you’re very lucky. 😉


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