Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Attention all Naturopaths. The good news science has proved that there is a water memory effect.

The bad news is that it lasts for less than a Nano second, so yet again all available evidence suggest that you are all Quacks.

Yes there are real and legitimate herbal readies, However naturopathic water is not one of them. Any benefits gained by your marks clients are a result of the placebo effect.

For more on Quckery Naturopathy see the following links:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Maximum Ride

I'm currently reading some books by James Patterson. I started with 'Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment', then moved on to the original 'When the Wind Blows'. Its interesting to see the same author give the same setup two treatments

On balance I like the original more. As its somewhat purer and closer to the potential science. A girl who's arms are wings makes genetic sense, even though a human sized creature would not be able to fly under current Earth conditions.

In contrast the six limbed children of the Maximum Ride series are pure fantasy, as are the Erasers (techno babel for werewolf). And I have to say all the additional random powers give that set of books a very X men vibe, which I just didn't find that entertaining. Especially when one of the bird children finds that she can also breath under water, using invisible vents in her neck.

I'm also reminded of why I tend to stay away from Suspense Thrillers. Patterson's style is to use short sharp chapters and rapidly shifting point of view, much like a movie. Occasionally making the amateurish mistake of shifting heads mid scene. Maybe its acceptable but I've studied the craft of writing enough to e jarred by it. In 'When the wind blows' this seems to particularly happen with the Thomas Harding character. He is hunting the bird children and there are numerous instances where Point of View shifts rapidly between him and Either Max or Mathew, then back again all on the one page

Its a pet peeve but I find the frequent changes of point of view and perspective (some chapters are in first person and others in third) jarring and a little confusing. So far in When the Wind blows I've counted nine points of few, and at least one chapter which I think was a flashback, though this isn't entirely clear. Suspense Thriller writers seem to do this an awful lot, Indeed the short section ending in the Point of view character being murdered is a stable of the field.

For me one or two points of few is a far better approach. I recall seeing this done rather well by De Lint in Little Grrl Lost. Here we had TJ's story told consistently in 3rd person and Elizabeth's told consistently in first person. Each has one or more longish chapters to tell their story until it gets to some kind of narrative pause, or cliffhanger, before we switch.

So in summary I like the idea enough to soldier on, even if I find the way it has been written a little jarring.


I''ve come to the conclusion that what this author needs as a tough editor, willing to call him on things. I suspect that what has happened is that Mr Patterson has gotten sufficiently successful that they publish his draft as is, with insufficient editing.

I'm on 'The lake house' now and there is a host of the same problems. Switching between heads. Redundant chapters honestly why do we need to get a description of what is happening at the Hospital three times. OK the 3rd has a different point of view, but its still hopelessly redundant. Worst still we get this right at the beginning, with the name of the villein. Whats the point of a suspense novel where the reader knows who the villein is from the first chapter? Then we have Francis start naming the secret project even though she never actually found out the name of the project. Yes the reader knew but she didn't. And then finding out that the Good doctor has clones, Again ruin the suspense why don't you.

I still like the story, but the way it is written is driving me up the wall.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thank God For Evolution - book review

In case you didn't know its a book by Michael Dowd. I have to say that I admire the goal of this book. The Eco aware and inclusive theology that Dowd is trying to build is an admirable thing. However I fear that is has some rather serious problems as its based on a combination of bad science and misappropriated theology.

Firstly the Science. Dowd is a fan of evolution. However he tries to make the leap from Darwinian evolution, an established biological process, to evolution as the underlying principle of the universe. And here we have made the error that Creationists love to see. Because quite frankly Evolution as a paradigm of everything is not a scientific theory, and can be easily blown out of the water. Doing so does nothing to biological evolution,despite what Creationists would like you to believe.

In any case Dowd's evolution seems to be a synonym for emergence and the argument that the Ultimate Reality which is God and the universe simultaneously (Dowd is a pantheist), is evolving. This seems flawed as by definition Ultimate reality is a closed system, and being closed is subject to the second law of thermodynamics. For me that really is the end of that one. Note this same, creationist argument is wrong when applied to Biological evolution as the Earths biosphere is not a closed system, it receives energy from the sun, and emits waste energy back into space constantly.

Dowd then spends a lot of time on the ideas of Evolutionary Psychology, which is a relatively young approach and does have its detractors. But simply we have the old nature vs nurture debate and the fact that we are not certain how our behavior is shaped by our genes and experiences.

Despite this, his view of self growth is quite a compelling one. The basic idea is to look at places where you had the wrong reaction (in hind sight) and ask why, then answer along the lines of, I had this reaction because of my evolutionary legacy, and the fact that this same pattern of behavior allowed my distant ancestors to survive. Its an interesting way of accepting the past without assigning blame to yourself or others, and in some cases might by just what you need to do.

The danger here for Dowd is that he has pinned his argument on contentious science. And if Psychology decides that the evolutionary approach is not useful, then Dowd's entire argument will become irrelevant. All in all I really feel this is pseudoscience pretending to be the real thing. And in this regard is not any better then Scientific Creationism.

This is followed by a number of practices, including generic meditation and self honesty aimed at self improvement. They seem like good solid things to do, and I have to say I lack the courage to attempt some of them. I haven't however read enough self help literature to know if there is anything new here or not.

Finally we come to Dowd's theology. And here I do not think he is being intellectually honest. The problem being that Dowd desperately wants to cling to the conviction that his pantheistic, miracle free, uncommitted about any afterlife theology is still a Christian Theology. So we have several chapters on how selected stories from the bible can be interpreted as metaphors for the evolutionary emergence of human being and human morality. Granted Maybe my personal reactions against the Christian myths is causing me to be overly bias, but I just cant see this working.

The problem for Dowd I believe is that every Christian authority I can think of has, at some stage or other, denounced pantheism. Most recently they did so in response to the move Avatar. Yes it had pretty pictures but there was no plot people, let alone a theological message worth mentioning. So he is trying to take Christianity that it has already looked at and rejected.

And in the end I would have to agree that when you take the Christian message, then take away all literalism. When you argue that the virgin birth and resurrection where just put in because 1st century people would not take the message seriously with out it, what you have left is a great idea but its not what it was.

Dowd's theology is not bad. It is in my opinion quite good but it needs its own myths and stories. Indeed his website tries to provide several. And if your going to do this shackling yourself to a two thousand year old book is really more trouble then its worth.

So to sum up. I like the theology Dowd is trying to build. His practices for personal development are great. However the over reliance on evolution as a model of everything makes it scientifically questionable. And the attempt to dress it up in Christian language seems redundant, and possibly counter productive.