Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs (Contents)
November 1, 2019 by

McGill professor Joe Schwarcz has come out of the ivy closet with a collection of delightful, instructive, witty and thoroughly accessible essays, none of which requires any formal knowledge. Come as you are. His subjects range from the commonplace molecular magic of shampoos, soybeans, blue jeans, chocolate and tea to the truly lurid: the secret …

Diagnosis by a “Clairvoyant” Naturopath
June 27, 2013 by

I have little insects inside me that are dining on my cartilage, bones and muscles. It seems they invaded my body either from animals or from dirt. These bugs used to eat plants, I’m told, but because they’ve been genetically modified, they now eat us. I also have a type of worm in my blood …

Dr. Oz’s Not-So-Amazing “Fat Busters”
December 18, 2012 by

Miracles are pretty rare events. Except on television’s “Dr. Oz Show,” where they appear frequently. Oz doesn’t claim to raise the dead or part the Red Sea, but he does raise people’s hopes of parting with their flab. And he’s certainly not shy about flinging about the word “miracle.” Oz and his producers do not …

Erin Brockovich Story Largely Fiction
February 19, 2004 by

Erin Brockovich (a/k/a Erin Brockovich-Ellis since her 1999 remaraige to actor Eric Ellis) was a ho-hum legal assistant in California until she discovered that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) had leached trace amounts of chromium into the water supply of the town of Hinkley. She was almost instantly elevated to the role of people’s champion …

Colorful Nonsense: Dinshah Ghadiali and His Spectro-Chrome Device
July 10, 2003 by

Dinshah P. Ghadiali (1873-1966), inventor of the Spectro-Chrome, was born in Bombay, India. At least by his own account, he was a remarkable man. He began school at the ripe old age of two and a half; by eight he was in high school, and by eleven he was an assistant to a professor of …

Trepanation
April 28, 2003 by

The camera closes in on the electric drill boring a hole through the skull. Blood gushes from the wound and splatters everywhere. The latest horror movie? No. This scene is from a 1970 “documentary” called “Heartbeat in the Brain,” a true cinematic classic. The message of the film is clear: if you want to achieve …

The Story of John R. Brinkley
April 17, 2002 by

The remarkable events I’m going to chronicle here would likely never have unfolded, in 1917, if young Dr. John Brinkley had not been hired as house doctor at the Swift meatpacking company, located in Kansas. He was dazzled by the vigorous mating activities of the goats destined for the slaughterhouse. A couple of years later, …

A Chemist’s Brief Look at Homeopathy
December 2, 2001 by

I have a problem with homeopathy. To accept its principles, I must cast aside the understanding of chemistry that I have developed over 30 years. Therapy based on nonexistent molecules just does not fit the model. But, of course, I cannot conclude that homeopathy does not work just because its proposed mechanism of action is …

The Night I Bought a Water Filter
December 2, 2001 by

It was a dark and stormy night. Really. There was a knock at the door. The well-dressed gentleman on my doorstep introduced himself and proceeded to ask me a rhetorical question: “Are you interested in good health?” For a moment I pondered putting an end to the encounter by saying, “No, I would rather be …

Some Notes on the Nature of Science
June 22, 2001 by ,

The scientific method offers an objective way to evaluate information to determine what is false. The late astronomer Carl Sagan, Ph.D., has pointed out that “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of facts.” [1] A 1998 National Academy of Sciences book contains a superb chapter that distinguishes between …