WTF world?

Welfare minister Lord Freud has apologised for “foolish and offensive” remarks in which he suggested people with disabilities could be paid less than the minimum wage.

I heard this news last week while I was stationary on Gibbet Hill (the perpetual cycle of campus roadworks has turned once again and the half mile journey from Car Park 3 to the Gibbet Hill lights can take upwards of 45 minutes). No doubt fueled by my anger at the traffic situation I took the opportunity to pen a rant against politicians whose views stand in direct opposition to their office. I’ve decided not to post the rant but I do wonder how this happens. As Ed Miliband put it:

These are not the words of someone who ought to be in charge of policy relating to the welfare of disabled people.

No more than the Minister for Women and Equality should oppose equal rights for members of the LGBT community, a climate change denier should chair the Senate Committe on Environment and Public Works, a judge should believe that rape is only possible if severe damage is inflicted otherwise the body ‘shuts it down’, a supporter of homeopathy should be Secretary of State for Healthsomeone who believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old was made in 6 days serve on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology… there are more.

Whenever I hear another one of these I think, “How the hell did this happen? How did we end up with someone whose views are diametrically opposed to the very purpose of their position,” but I guess that is the reason. If you really truly believe that climate change is a hoax (spoiler alert: it isn’t) you will strive to put yourself in a position where you can combat and refute those claims. If you don’t believe in equality for certain groups what better way to ensure it than as a Minister for Equality.

All just a bit depressing really.




Oscillococcinum…is a homeopathic alternative medicine marketed to relieve influenza-like symptoms…The preparation is derived from duck livers, which are diluted such that to obtain one molecule of the original substance would require consuming a dose larger than the known universe.

That’s a big ol’ dose.

Natural Science

It just doesn’t add up…

An article from New Scientist listing 13 things that science can’t explain. They mainly relate to space – Dark Matter, Dark Energy, the Universe’s thermal equilibrium, life on Mars – though I think the one I find most interesting is the Placebo effect:

Don’t try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it’s not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared.

The Belfast homeopathy trials are interesting too, or at the very least the potential consequences are:

If the results turn out to be real…we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry.