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Looking Back at 2013

I started this blog in May 2012, so 2013 is its first full year and a good moment to look back how things are going. And I must say, if you look at the number of visitors it looks like a tremendous succes: in 2013 there were about 69,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics versus 819 in 2012! But to be fair, that’s almost alll because of one single post, the one on the Danish schoolgirls experiment in which they used garden cress to see what the effect of Wi-Fi might be.

The number one attraction of 2013

Researchers from the UK, The Netherlands and Sweden have shown great interest in the biology experiments of the five girls.
The horrible effect of Wi-Fi on the germination of garden cress?

I normally write my blogs in Dutch first for Kloptdatwel.nl, but this time I worked the other way round. I stumbled upon this story on the site of Gunnar Tjomlid (who had linked another post of mine in his article, that’s why I picked it up) while it hadn’t drawn any attention to mention in the Netherlands. So I decided to write up an English version first. Also with the intention to use it as a rebuttal with the rbutr-twitter widget, which I liked to give a good try. And there were already quite some sites (in English) bringing this story without criticism.
Just a day later the story on the experiment by the five Danish schoolgirls went viral in The Netherlands and Belgium as I noticed on monday May 27th in my Twitter timeline. Just pointing some people to ‘my’ rebuttal of the story set off a storm of visitors on this blog. Almost 20,000 on that day alone! That was helped by the fact that some newspapers brought the story with a link to my blog as a critical view. This article by De Standaard eventually led to more than 11,000 visits.
After the first couple of busy days I could follow from the visitor numbers where in the world the story had popped up again. Just two and half week ago it was warmed up by the horrible anti-science site Naturalnews.com and then by the Daily Mail and Telegraph. Another couple of thousand views were the result. Up till now the post has been viewed more than 60,500 times.
The Dutch translation which I published a couple of days later on Kloptdatwel was still good for more than 10,000 views and you have to add another 3,000 from the version which was reblogged on Joop.nl, one of the bigger opinion websites in The Netherlands. And finally: just last week I got a surprising e-mail from Thomas Guiot, a French speaking Belgian skeptic, who asked my permission (‘yes please!’) to make a translation, which is now online as well!

Runners-up

MMS-Malaria-UgandaThe blogs about the alledged trial with MMS against malaria in Uganda are about a more serious issue, I think. I’m still surprised that this hasn’t been picked up by more critical websites. It seems that the Ugandan Red Cross Society is getting away with it by covering up its involvement. I still think it would be far better for them to tell exactly what happened.
There are some reports that another ‘trial’ has been done in Uganda last October and that videos will be shown, but I didn’t see them yet. I try to keep track on this matter and will inform you on the developments.
The first blog I wrote about this (‘Fake and Unethical Trial: Video Claims Miracle Mineral Solution Cures Malaria‘) drew about 2,200 visitors and they were not all happy with what I wrote. I had to moderate quite a few comments with foul language and absurd allegations. But this was also the case when I engaged in discussion in the comment sections of the YouTube videos.
A good third place (1,250 visitors) is for the story on ‘Vi~Aqua’ the ‘miracle’-water that was also endorsed by Kew gardens, just because they were allowed to use the equpment for free. It surprises me every time how easily pseudoscientists can get these kind of endorsements and how difficult it is for institutions to admit that they made such a silly mistake.

My personal favorites

On of the articles I like best (and which was actually the motivation to start this website), is the one on the twins who according to Oliver Sacks had phenomenal skills in calculating prime numbers. It’s from 2012, but  was picked up this year by George Johnson who writes a blog for the website of Discover Magazine (“Fire in the Mind”). In two of his blogs he referred to my article (1,2) and that got me several hundred visits.
Another post which I’m quite pleased with is about one of the myths which are spread by the proponents of CAM. In many of their posts you can read the argument that Dutch research by Kooreman and Baars has shown that general practioners who studied CAM as well, work 15 percent cheaper. This is actually not in their article, but was mentioned in their press release when they came forward with it (even before it was acepted by any journal). The authors acknowledged (in e-mail to me) that this 15 percent is not substantiated by their research, but up till now they did nothing  to stop it from being cited in this way.
And a last article you should defintely read, if you haven’t done so already, is my story on Ruggero Santilli, the fringe scientist who was so annoyed with me that he let one of his sockpuppets call me ‘a threat to America and mankind.‘

Looking forward to 2014

I already have some bigger stories coming up. One on a device for electroacupuncture, which was used on cows by Wageningen University. This is strange already and moreover the authors didn’t even question the dubious origins of the device, which according to the supplier lie in the Russian Space Programme. I wrote an article about this for the most recent edition of Skepter, the magazine of Skepsis. When the Dutch version will be avaiable online, I will translate it for my site.
Another subject I’m working on is the invention of Danish engineer Poul Jakobsen, who uses special pipes to protect beaches. Dutch authorities did a test with this from 2006 until 2011. Together with the company who paid most of the costs involved they seem very pleased with the results, which according to the scientists who looked at it as well, amount to nothing.

I like to wish all my visitors a verry happy 2014 and I hope you’ll pay this site another visit soon.

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