Debunking pseudoscience – ladies only edition

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My long time readers are aware of my complete distain for pseudoscience. I’ve talked about it in the past. If there is one thing I loathe about the Internet, it is how easily and quickly junk “science” is passed off as legitimist science. Anyone can create a website, post suspect articles and call it a “news” site. Far too many people fall prey to carefully constructed crap, designed to do nothing more than bolster support for personal opinions. Take the site, “Natural News” for example. When we hear the word news, we assume the information given has been researched and fact checked. “News”, to casual readers is something that is reliable and legitimate. But a careful review of the authors of” Natural News” exposes the dirty truth. They are average people making outrages claims.

The author of “The amazing benefits of drinking raw milk“ is no scientist, though she does a good job of constructing what looks like a scientific article on raw milk. Unfortunately she fails to consider these “benefits” are the same as pasteurized milk, minus the possible contaminates found in raw milk. Her credentials? Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach.
Yes, a woman who homeschooled her kids, is writing “news” articles and handing out medical advice.

Normally I shy away from pseudoscience. A good eye roll usually shrugs off my displeasure at yet another “science” based claim. I just sigh and move on. But at some point we have to stop ignoring all of this. As Carl Sagan points out over and over in his book, The Demon-Hunted World, the more we allow ourselves to be deluded by pseudoscience, the closer we move back into the dark ages. It is not stupidity that will kill us, it is our ignorance of ourselves.

So with that in mind, it’s time to take a stand against pseudoscience. It’s time to call out BS for what it is. The more ridicules the claim, the more pushback it deserves. This one is for the ladies. Men, I suggest you stop reading now. Seriously, stop. We are going to talk about lady parts and the “cure” for monthly problems. Still here? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yesterday, as I scrolled through my Twitter feed I saw a title and link that caught my breath. At first I thought I read it incorrectly. Then, as it dawned on me what I read was accurate I couldn’t help but clink on the link. Surely this was a joke, or a parody on Cosmo. “Steaming Your Vagina” is the title of the link to an article written by someone who obviously has no idea how the body works, or how volatile oil extraction works. Here’s the claim:

When the herbs are placed in the hot water, their medicinal properties, including volatile oils, are released and carried to the surface of your skin, and to the inside of the vagina, where they are absorbed into the bloodstream and into to the uterus. The herbal steam increases circulation, thins mucus, and cleanses the entire reproductive system, allowing it to shed unnecessary membranes and build-up. The results are varied, and amazing.

Picture it ladies. You’re at a loss as to what to do about your monthly cramps, craving for chocolate and binge-watching the Lifetime Network. Oh, if only there was a natural way to cure this! Well you are in luck because the author of “Steaming your Vagina” has uncovered an ancient cure. It’s like a facial for your most sacred parts. All you have to do is squat lady-like over a steamy bowl of herbs. Oh joyous day!

There is so much BS in this article, I’m almost at loss as where to begin. It would take pages to explain how oil extraction works, and even more pages to explain how chemistry works and why steam is not at all a viable means of getting anything into your blood stream, so I will cover only the most obvious points and then share links for further reading.

Here is a link to how oils are extracted. There are several ways, but the one to keep in mind does mention steam. This must be the method the author was thinking of as she wrote her article. Too bad she did not fully research this method, because in order to capture the oil, a closed system is required. The oil must change its molecular structure a couple times before it becomes true “essential” oil. In order to do this, the herbs must reach the boiling point, and stay boiling for the extraction to work. So ladies, get out a hotplate, pour some water and herbs into a pan, wait for the concoction to boil, and then squat over the boiling pan. Yes, you read correctly. In order to “capture” any and all essential oils, you must be over a boiling pan of water. Once the water begins to cool, the oil no longer breaks free of the plant’s membranes, making the process pointless, and your afternoon of personal papering a waste of time.

Now, let’s suppose you grin and bear it, all in the name of science. Now let us suppose some of the oil molecules break down so that they are light enough to travel by steam up to the targeted area and reconstitutes as oil as it hits the targeted area. Is there a chance the oil will make it into your bloodstream? Ah, no.

Here is an article from the CDC on what it takes for chemicals to be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. Bottom line, it is very rare for a chemical, or in our case oil molecules, to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If it were as simple as rubbing something onto our skin, just think of how unnecessary hypodermic needles would be! Doctors could simply rub a vaccination in. Our skin has built in defense mechanisms that keep chemicals out of our bodies. In fact, in order for anything to reach our bloodstream science is involved. This includes transdermal medication patches.  These types of medicine require formulation specifically for this purpose, requiring chemical engineering to create a molecule that is soluble in skin, and small enough to penetrate and absorb into the body.

But, let’s imagine, the oil as steam, reconstitutes itself as oil and wiggles its way past the skin’s three barriers and enters the bloodstream, and just for giggles, gets past the white blood cells, whose main function is to kill off foreign bodies. We are talking super oil at this point! You might want to start asking yourself what exactly you put into that pot of boiling water, and if it’s really a good idea to have it floating around in your bloodstream?

Now here comes the real magic. Once the oil reaches the vaginal bloodstream it will be taken to the uterus vein. Once in the vein, the oil must know to release itself into the uterus walls in order to for its medicinal properties to take effect. What medical properties, you might ask? Well, that’s just the thing pseudoscience does not want you asking. There are no explanations as to what herbs work best and why. There are no medicinal mentions of any kind. This is, forgive the pun, smoke steam and mirrors. Oh the benefits are given, but no science. In fact, you may use the herb or flower of your choosing; apparently they are all the same. As it is with all pseudoscience, all BS and not a thought is given as to how real science works.

 

So the next time someone offers you a “medical” tip, take care that you are not being sold snake oil. Your lady parts will thank you.

Things you may not know about Nevada

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State Flag

State Flag

Tomorrow I have a possible opportunity to use my two degrees. I don’t want to jinx my chances, so I am hesitant to speak of it, but as I sat here prepping for it, an idea popped in my head. What if I use what I have just learned to write a list post?

What am I hinting at you might ask? Well, what does one do with both a history and humanities degree? I suppose you could teach or let’s say, work in a State history museum. These are two popular careers paths for someone like me. So without further ado I give you

Things you may not know about Nevada

What did you just say?

It is pronounced “Nev-AD-a,” not “Nev-AH-da, or Na- Vah- Da. Don’t despair if you are a guest of our state and say it wrong. We will just smile and count the days until you leave. But if you are a politician looking for votes, we will run you out of town.

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But it’s all desert, right?

Nevada is the 7th largest state yet one of the least populated. As of 2014, we have 2,790,136 residents. There is plenty of room for everyone, except in Las Vegas. Clark County has the highest number of residents in the State (2,027,868) . In the summer the number of tourists are in the thousands. It is an adult Disneyland on steroids.

While most of Nevada is comprised of desert, there are some beautiful green spots. The Sierra Mountain range is breathtaking, although not in the winter (think Donner Party) but if snow is your thing, Nevada has two world-renowned ski resorts: Heavenly and Kirkland.

The famous Gold Hill Hotel

The famous Gold Hill Hotel

Spooky

If ghosts are what you are looking for then Nevada is your state. With well over 600 ghost towns, countless haunted taverns and Inns, Nevada’s ghost population might just well exceed the living. Gold Hill, a tiny mining town of 191 living residents, boasts of having several resident ghosts. Two lost miners and two murder victims are said to haunt the Gold Hill Hotel. More can be found in rental cabins, built in the 1860’s as part of a larger mining camp. Gold Hill has been featured on just about every paranormal ghost show on TV. No wonder the tiny town has managed to keep history alive. Tourists flock to experience a night of spooky entertainment.

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If you like conspiracy stories…

If you happen to look at any Nevada State map prior to 2012, you might notice something odd about a large area right outside of Clark County. 85% of Nevada is owned by the Federal government and most of it is clearly marked as so. So, looking at a map one might think that the large area at the base of the Pahranagat Mountain Range is privately owned, as it is unmarked. The odd thing that may jump out at a skilled map-reader is the lack of topography of any kind. It is as if mapmakers just left this area blank.

Now, the area reads “Nellis Air Force Base”, but you may know it by its common name, “Area 51”. Speaking of maps, don’t ever trust me with one. Someday I should write about my experience of how I found myself at one of the area’s gates.

Quick Facts

Nevada entered into the Union on Oct., 31, 1864. In an effort to hasten its admission to the union, Nevada’s entire state constitution was sent to Washington, D.C., by telegram. It is one of the few remaining states that celebrates the anniversary of Statehood as a legal holiday.

Mark Twain lived and worked in Virginia City from 1862 to 1864. Twain left in quite a hurry. There is a story (Twain may have made it up) that he left after challenging a bar owner to a duel. Having out smarted his opponent by tricking him into thinking Twain quite the marksman, he left before the ruse would be uncovered.

Nevada was the first state to ratify the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave African-American men the right to vote, on March 1, 1869.

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Nevada’s Berlin-Icthyosaur State Park contains the largest known Shonisaurus popularis ichthyosaur fossils.

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Nevada is the fourth-largest producer of gold in the world following China, Australia, and South Africa.

The State bird is the Mountain Bluebird

Carson City is the capitol

Gold was discovered in 1849

Genoa started out a trading post in 1851, and quickly became the State’s first settlement.

The State flower is the Sagebrush.

The State tree is the Bristlecomb

The State motto is “All for our Country”

 

And now you know a little about Nevada.

 

 

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