So my wife rings me up at work this morning to tell me about a strange phone call she’d just gotten. An automated voice claiming to be from the Social Security Administration was contacting her about suspicious activity involving her SSN that will result in an immediate suspension of her number if she doesn’t take steps to clear her name. The longer she listened to it the more she thought to herself, “This is bullshit,” and she hung up on the call.
She called me because there was just enough of a nagging doubt that she wanted to make sure she did the right thing. She did. It’s a scam that’s been growing since at least 2017. Here’s a recording of one of these calls:
Gotta admit that I can see how some folks would panic if they got a phone call like that one. It sounds legit enough and it doesn’t help that the scammers are spoofing the real phone number of the SSA (1-800-772-1213) on your Caller ID.
There are two basic types of these calls. One is to try and get you to “verify” your SSN by entering it into the phone so they can attempt Identity Theft. With the other type they try to get you to pay a fee by going out and buying gift cards and then reading off the codes to those cards to the scammer on the phone. This is basically the same scam as the IRS imposter scam that was making the rounds for a few years.
According to the FTC website:
In 2017, we heard from 3,200 people about SSA imposter scams, and those people reported losing nearly $210,000. So far THIS year: more than 35,000 people have reported the scam, and they tell us they’ve lost $10 million.
The page I’m quoting from was last updated in December of 2018 and it’s only gotten worse since then. From April 2018 to March 2019 the reported losses grew to $19 million.
Here’s the bit that I don’t get: How is it that folks are not recognizing this is a scam as soon as they’re told to go out and buy gift cards and then read the numbers off to the guy on the phone? How is that not a smack over the head that this is not a legit call?
I mean, I can understand falling for the request to verify your SSN because there are lots of occasions (banks, etc.) where you might be asked to do that, but who out there is so dumb to think that a government agency accepts payment by gift cards only or, worse, Bitcoin?
As the graphic shows, people reported the IRS scam (in blue) in huge numbers for many years, but the new SSA scam (in orange) is trending in the same direction – with a vengeance. People filed over 76,000 reports about Social Security imposters in the past 12 months, with reported losses of $19 million.1 Compare that to the $17 million in reported losses to the IRS scam in its peak year.2 About 36,000 reports and $6.7 million in reported losses are from the past two months alone.
Just 3.4% of people who report the Social Security scam tell us they lost money.3 Most people we hear from are just worried because they believe a scammer has their Social Security number. But when people do lose money, they lose a lot: the median individual reported loss last year was $1,500, four times higher than the median individual loss for all frauds.4 All age groups are reporting this scam in high numbers, with older and younger adults filing loss reports at similar rates.5
People report sending money in unconventional ways. Most often, people say they gave the scammer the PIN numbers on the back of gift cards. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin come in a distant second to gift cards: people say they withdrew money and fed cash into Bitcoin ATMs. With both methods, the scammer gets quick cash while staying anonymous, and the money people thought they were keeping safe is simply gone.
So let’s break a few things down:
No, your SSN is not about to be suspended, your bank accounts are not about to be seized, and you are not about to have an arrest warrant put out on you. This is bullshit, plain and simple.
The Social Security Administration will never contact you and tell you to wire them money, send cash, or (for crying out loud) give them gift cards or they’ll suspend your benefits. Never. Doesn’t happen.
You should never give out your SSN and/or personally identifying info to someone who has called you out of the blue even if you think it’s legit and the Called ID is the real number for whomever is calling. Hang up and call a number you know is associated with whatever you’re dealing with to make sure the request is legit first.
As always, be vigilant. There are a lot of unscrupulous people in this world working hard to scam you out of your money. If something smells like bullshit to you then it’s probably bullshit and you should do some digging before handing over any info or money. Most importantly, remain calm. These assholes are relying on you freaking out to make it easier to get you to do something stupid. Don’t be stupid. Don’t freak out.
… just watch what happens when the Simple Misfits run an experiment with two different people — one white and one black — attempting to break into a car.
Not only do the police show up within minutes of the black guy’s attempt, but at the end it looks like they have half a fucking squad there to handle him despite him being completely cooperative with the officer. Meanwhile the white guy spent half an hour doing the same thing and a passing cop didn’t even stop to question him about it.
A few years back ABC News did a similar experiment in a park where they staged a bike theft:
In that experiment some folks did question the white guy who admitted that he was stealing the bike and then didn’t bother to do anything else about it, but when the black guy showed up suddenly it was a showdown. Even more interesting is when they bring out an attractive blonde woman to steal the bike and people actually help her do it.
To be fair, there’s more than racism at work here. This is a perfect example of cognitive bias in action. Specifically in relation to racial stereotypes. Our culture has long reinforced the idea that white people are good and black people are bad and when confronted with situations such as these that bias tends to show up. The best way to avoid being biased is to be aware of our tendency to engage in it when and where we can. At its worst it ends up putting innocent people in jail and/or allows guilty parties to escape.
I’m a big advocate for skeptical thinking. It’s one of the best tools you can have in life for determining truth claims and avoiding being scammed. We can’t be experts in everything so being skeptical is your first line of defense. To be really effective at it you need to understand how your brain works.
That’s where shows like Your Bleeped Up Brain come in handy. Each week they pick a theme — Lies, Superstition, Deception, Memory — and then they show you why your brain is susceptible to each one. Developed with the help of Richard Wiseman, the show delves not only into why your brain fucks up, but how it has had an impact on history on everything from world wars to belief in vampires. After each concept is explained they demonstrate by running experiments on the street with random folks passing by. It’s not only informative, but hugely entertaining.
Alas, there’s only four episodes in the series and they’ve already aired three of them. However, all is not lost as you can rent them through Amazon Prime or you can watch full episodes on the official site for free. I’m hopeful that it does well enough that they decide to pick it up for a full season later.
Catholics can be a tetchy bunch. Especially when you ruin their miracles. Over in Mumbai they were all excited about a miracle crucifix that was dripping water at a local church. The True Believers™ were convinced that it was of divine origin and were collecting it to drink thinking it was something more than ordinary water.
Turns out they were right, but not in the way they were thinking:
You’d think they’d appreciate being told that they were drinking toilet water, but instead they just get all pissy about it.
Apparently this was just the straw that broke the Catholic’s back because it turns out Edamaruku has been a bit of a thorn in their side, and a lot of other believer’s, for awhile now:
Accusing him of spreading “anti-Catholic venom” during televised debates on the crucifix, outraged religious groups in Mumbai have filed police complaints that could see Edamaruku jailed for up to three years under India’s blasphemy law.
Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Catholic-Christian Secular Forum, lodged one of the complaints, claiming it was the result of Edamaruku’s “very obvious and stridently anti-Christian bias”.
Edamaruku, who has spent the last 30 years debunking India’s mystics and gurus who attract massive followings (and fortunes), welcomes the charges as an opportunity to challenge India’s blasphemy law.
With any luck Edamaruku will get the blasphemy law — a hold over from India’s days as a British colony — overturned.
I’ve said before that the only thing you can conclude about the Mayan calendar stopping on December 21st, 2012 is that it is time to get a new Mayan calendar. Yet there are still plenty of people out there who cling to the idea that it’s significant in establishing when the world will end.
Now archaeologists have found new evidence that the Mayans certainly didn’t think the world would end at that time after discovering a mural in the ancient city Xultún which included dates stretching well past the end of the calendar everyone is so worked up about:
One is a lunar table, and the other is a “ring number”—something previously known only from much later Maya books, where it was used as part of a backward calculation in establishing a base date for planetary cycles. Nearby is a sequence of numbered intervals corresponding to key calendrical and planetary cycles.
The calculations include dates some 7,000 years in the future, adding to evidence against the idea that the Maya thought the world would end in 2012—a modern myth inspired by an ancient calendar that depicts time starting over this year.
“We keep looking for endings,” expedition leader Saturno said in a statement. “The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It’s an entirely different mindset.”
There you go. Clear evidence the Mayans thought the world would continue on past the end of the calendar they were using. Can we please put this stupidity behind us now?
Considering how badly I got raked over the coals by various feminists for my last attempt at discussing issues involving male privilege, it’s probably a sign of diminished intelligence that I would step into that lion pit again, but here I go.
This time out it’s not about a web comic, but a shit-storm in the skeptical/atheist community that is commonly being referred to as “Elevatorgate.” It all started with Rebecca Watson of Skepchick fame when she did a video blog about an uncomfortable encounter in an elevator she had at a recent atheist conference. Here’s a transcript of the small portion of the video blog where she describes what happened:
“So I walk to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me and said, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?’
Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and–don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner…”
Apparently Rebecca had mentioned, either in discussion panels or in small group conversations, several times throughout the day how she often feels unwelcome at skeptical conferences like the one she was attending because invariably someone tries to hit on her. Given that, it’s understandable how she would find the actions of the unnamed male on the elevator to be creepy. Especially given the time of day it was, the location in which it took place, and her announcement just prior to getting on the elevator that she was going to bed. As is often the case when things like this are posted to the net, someone stood up to defend Creepy Elevator Guy (CEG from now on), and the beginnings of a shit-storm appeared on the horizon.
Now let me say this right up front: Sure, it’s entirely possible CEG had purely innocent intentions and wasn’t actually looking to get laid, but even with as clueless as I can be about issues of feminism I can still understand why the assumption would be that he was looking to get his dick wet. Perhaps it’s because I have a daughter and I’ve hung around with enough creepy guys in my time to know what sort of stupid ideas they get in their heads, but even I was thinking it was a little skeevy. Still, it appears Rebecca declined the offer and the fellow didn’t push it any further than that.
Anyway, so some folks stood up to defend CEG and it wasn’t long before the battle lines were drawn and the growing shit-storm started to pick up speed. Reading through the comments back and forth on a couple of different blogs can be very dispiriting because there doesn’t seem to be any room for an honest discussion. Sexual harassment and the threat of rape are, understandably, emotionally upsetting topics so it’s probably no surprise that so many were outraged that anyone would think to suggest that CEG hadn’t done anything wrong. Meanwhile the CEG defenders were flabbergasted that so many people in the “skeptical” movement would make such blatant assumptions about CEG’s intentions based on how little info Rebecca had given anyone to go on. There are a lot of blanket statements being thrown back and forth that I don’t think accurately describe the stances or either side and with that comes the inevitable name calling.
This is dispiriting because the topic of sexism in the atheist/skeptical “movement” is probably a good discussion to have, but the topic is so emotionally charged that it’s almost pointless to engage in it because both sides end up talking past each other instead of to each other. Despite the apparent blindness my white male privilege gives me to the injustices of the non-white-male population (as was repeatedly pointed out to me in comments on my aforementioned entry) I do see and acknowledge that sexism and, yes, even misogyny are a problem in the atheist/skeptical community. There’s definitely room for improvement that’ll never happen so long as shit-storms flare up every time we try to talk about it.
This one has gotten so big that even well-known “leaders” (I use the term lightly) such as Richard Dawkins and Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist) have gotten caught up in it and have apparently disappointed legions of fans by saying things that others felt were illustrative of their acute male privilege problem. It doesn’t help that when a female blogger by the name of Stef McGraw wrote an entry critical of Rebecca Watson’s vlog the latter turned around and used her status as a keynote speaker at an event where the former was present to criticize the criticism, which turned the shit-storm into a fecal hurricane.
Here’s where I stick my foot in it and say, well, I can see valid points on both sides. Yeah, at best Creepy Elevator Guy didn’t think his proposition (innocent or otherwise) through very well and, at worst, he made someone feel uncomfortable and threatened, intentionally or not, and that’s not a good thing. At the same time, the feminists in the audience did some amazing knee-jerk assumption making that is probably out of place in a skeptical community. Understandable as it may be from an emotional standpoint, it’s still going to rub some people the wrong way. When you stamp your feet and demand that your position is the only correct one to have and anyone who disagrees is a misogynistic fuckwad, well, you’re not going to win a lot of converts to your cause. It comes across as ideological as any Fundie and that’ll hit a brick wall with a lot of people right from the get-go.
More importantly, these sorts of shit-storms make people reluctant to even discuss the issue because it always blows up into a shit-storm. I like to think I’m a decent guy who respects and appreciates women for more than their physical assets, but by some accounts I’m more of a problem than the openly misogynistic assholes because I can’t see how anti-woman I really am due to male privilege. It’s only through sheer stupidity on my part that I even attempt to comment on these issues because the smarter side of me says I should just stick to less potentially explosive issues such as clubbing baby seals. (For the record, I’m against it, but I’m probably still part of the problem due to my Privileged Human Species status blinding me to the true horrors of being a baby seal.)
So what am I trying to say here? I’m saying that I don’t think either side has handled the conversation particularly well and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. Until we stop yelling past each other and twisting what the other side said to suit our arguments, well, this will just keep happening again and again with no real gains to be made. A lot of folks keep saying they want to have a conversation, but that involves some give and take and most folks seem only interested in the giving part.
I now await being told how clueless I am and how I just don’t get it.
Catherine Ferguson learning that this horse used to be Abraham Lincoln. What are the odds??
Not to suggest that crap like this is why newspapers are dying a slow death, but I’m sure it doesn’t help. It seems you can write into The Jersey Journal for a reading from a “Pet Psychic” who will reveal your pets’ innermost thoughts and dreams:
My 9-year-old cat Lotus lives the good life in that she sleeps and eats all day. My question for you is as follows: She tends to meow and twitch a lot when she sleeps. I’ve often wondered if she is reliving a previous life. Could this be the case?
By now I’m sure you can guess that the “Pet Psychic” is going to answer in the affirmative, but you’ll never guess what one of Lotus’ past lives was actually spent as:
Lotus tells me that you are very wise, in general. But, she is quick to add that you are way off base this time. She does admit to having a past life as a Roman general, but that’s not what she’s viewing when she sleeps.
Got that? Kitty used to be people and an important people she was! But that’s not what she’s dreaming about:
Instead, she is frequently living scenes of great conquest in animal form. She is a tiger, or sometimes another big cat, stalking then pouncing on her prey. She is proud to wind up with hard-to-catch, but delicious fresh food.
Well isn’t that just a stunning revelation. Well, no, it’s not.
Here’s the great thing about being a Pet Psychic: You can make up whatever bullshit story you want and the one person who could call bullshit on you… can’t because they’re an animal now. So go wild and claim whatever nonsense enters your head! Fluffy was once Cleopatra! Tickles used to be a famous 18th century German brewmaster!
Apparently the Pet Psychic in question is Catherine Ferguson who advertises herself as a psychic for pets and people as well as a Reiki master, and she has a PH.D (probably in advanced bullshitting). Her fees for readings run from $25 for one question via email or snail mail for approximately 15 minutes worth of a reading at a limit of 15o words to $90 for a 60-minute consultation in person or via phone, e-mail or snail mail. That’s roughly a buck and a half per minute which is a good rate of pay if you can manage to bullshit well enough to get it.
Here’s the thing I don’t get: Since when is this something worth putting in a newspaper? Granted, I haven’t subscribed to a paper in years so maybe I’m unaware of the sudden legitimacy of “psychics” as columnists, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would encourage people to take your paper seriously. Given that I just wrote a similar entry a week or so ago about a local news website, Ann Arbor.com, also putting woo in its pet advice column, I guess I must be totally out of touch with current trends in pet care. But at least in the latter example it wasn’t a full-time woo column like this one appears to be.
However, there is once again a silver lining in the comments to this article the first of which reads: “Oh, for #$%&’s sake.”
It seems you can’t even trust your friendly neighborhood PC repair technician anymore (unless it’s me):
Trevor Harwell, 20, a technician for Rezitech Inc., provided home computer services to users with Macintosh computers, said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.
Harwell went to elaborate lengths to ensure that he got lurid images, even convincing users through system messages that they needed to take their computers into steamy environments, such as near their showers, Goodrich said.
“While he had physical access to the computers, he would install a spyware-type application that allowed him remote access to the user’s computer and webcam,” Goodrich said.
“Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women,” Goodrich said. “Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes.”
[…] One message mimicked the appearance of a system message and read: “You should fix your internal sensor soon. If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor.”
The message led many victims to take their laptops into the bathroom while taking a shower, Goodrich said.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that water, even in the form of steam, and computers don’t really mix well so if your computer is suddenly telling you it needs a steam bath you should probably be at least a little bit skeptical. I could make a snarky comment about the fact that these were Mac users so it’s probably no surprise that they were easily duped — after all, look at how much they’re being duped out of to buy a Mac in the first place — but I’m sure there are plenty of Windows users out there who wouldn’t stop to question their computer’s sudden desire for tropical atmospheres either.
It’s probably a sign of my tendency to over-estimate the intelligence of the average American that I was surprised such a ploy worked at all, let alone for as long as this news items suggests it did. The police are saying that they’ve recovered “hundreds of thousands” of images. Perhaps these folks should consider taking an introduction to computers class at the local college.
Being an Ann Arbor resident I regularly visit the Ann Arbor.com news website to keep up with what’s happening locally. Generally it’s a pretty decent news source, but I’ve found myself stunned on two different occasions by the advice column for pets because it contained references to “alt-med” woo-woo nonsense that’s usually associated with humans. It’s kind of the same feeling I get when on those rare occasions I visit The Huffington Post blogs and come across an article by woo-meister Deepack Chopra.
Today’s surprise came in this article about a dog suffering from a snake bite from a Massasauga rattler, the only venomous snake native to Michigan. They’re pretty rare — I’ve lived here my entire life and spent plenty of time in the woods as a kid and have never encountered one — and as a result a lot of vets are not prepared to deal with pet that has been bitten by one.
Overall, the column is well written and contains much useful advice. The author, John Spieser, is a professional dog trainer and much of what he recommends didn’t raise an eyebrow until I got to this particular suggestion:
If you are a believer in homeopathics (which I happen to be, based on personal experience), having a few appropriate remedies on hand as a first course of action is a good idea.
It really is amazing how one stupid comment can put doubts in your head about all the rest of the advice being proffered. Homeopathy? Really?? Hey, why not give him a Milkbone while you’re at it. I’m sure it’d have just as much curative effect. Plus it’ll help to clean his teeth!
What’s really interesting is the fact that, despite the amazing curative powers of homeopathic water, in the case being discussed it’s never said that that approach was tried. Instead there’s a desperate search for anti-venom which none of the vets called had stocked because this is such a rare occurrence and few people are even aware that Michigan has a native rattlesnake. By the time some anti-venom was procured from the Toledo Zoo (at great expense) it was too late to administer it. Ultimately the dog was given a blood transfusion which seemed to do the trick.
Given all of that, you can understand why I’m puzzled the author would even bother suggesting a homeopathic treatment as something folks should keep on hand. The rest of his suggestions are good ones, but earlier in the article he mentions the fact that “vital time was lost due to unfamiliarity” on the part of the vets the dog was brought to. How much time would be lost if someone administered a homeopathic “remedy” expecting it to actually have some effect?
As I said, this is the second time I’ve been surprised by woo in a pet advice column at Ann Arbor.com. The first time was back at the start of April when author Lorrie Shaw wrote an article promoting the benefits of Penetrating Laser Therapy for your pets:
Anyone who has a pet has likely had the experience of monitoring their four-legged friends’ minor injuries or painful strains, and for the most part, the body will deal with it on its own, given a little time and/or rest.
When there is a chronic problem, like stubborn wounds or bone injuries that need extra attention, or perhaps when a pet is rehabilitating from injury and the healing process needs a little boost, holistic therapies or treatments can prove to be very useful — especially Class IV Penetrating Laser Therapy.
Now the first red flag this article raised for me was the use of the word “holistic” as that’s a popular word among the woo-woo faithful, but I admit that I hadn’t read up much on Penetrating Laser Therapy so I trudged on through the very brief article. It turns out that it’s not so much an article as it is a lead-in to free advertising for Dr.Taryn Clark and Dr. Jessica Franklin at the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital. That’s where the second red flag popped up as they are described as “veterinary acupuncturists” by the article.
Like I said, I had not looked into whether or not Class IV Penetrating Laser Therapy is legitimate or not. So I did a Google search that reveals that it’s very popular with Chiropractors and Veterinary Clinics. One such example can be found here where they promote it as a near-miracle cure for chronic pain:
The K Laser is an FDA approved Class IV laser. Early Class III therapeutic lasers are effective, but literally thousands of times less powerful than the new technology available today. Class III lasers are capable of penetration of only a few millimeters, while Class IV lasers can penetrate over 4 inches into the deep musculoskeletal tissue. The perfect blend of chiropractic and laser therapy produces phenomenal results in extremely short periods of time.
[…] The laser works by creating vasodilatation, bringing oxygen to the cells. It stimulates the lymphatic system, pulling edema and inflammation from the area. ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) production is stimulated in the cells helping them have the energy to function normally. The pain reflex is broken, offering immediate relief. In other words, “it brings in the good stuff and gets rid of the bad stuff”.
Sounds amazing, right? I looked up the K Laser on the FDA website(PDF), no small feat given the amount of stuff they publish, and this is how it’s described there:
Klaser provides infrared therapy for the following allowed claims:
Infrared therapy to provide topical heating for:
– Temporary increase in local blood circulation
– Temporary relief of minor muscles and joint aches, pains and stiffness
– Relaxation of muscles
– Muscles spasms
– Minor pain and stiffness associated with arthritis
The Intended Use/Indications For Use stated herein are identical to the cleared indications for the predicateddevice.
The device is indicated for emitting energy in the Infrared Spectrum to provide topical heating for the purpose of elevating tissue temperature for temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain, muscle spasm, pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and promoting relaxation of the muscle tissue and to temporarily increase local blood circulation. – March 25, 2005
So it does have some effect, but it doesn’t sound quite as exciting based on the FDA description. Still, it at least has some benefit, right? So what do the folks at the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital claim is the benefit for pets? Here’s a quote from their “Ask the Expert” column at the Ann Arbor.com website:
Laser therapy provides a sterile, pain-free, surgery-free, drug-free treatment that is used to treat a variety of injuries, wounds, fractures, neurological conditions, numerous dermatological problems, and pain (post-surgical, neck & back).
Whether your pet is rehabilitating from trauma or injury, healing from wounds, or simply aging, your companion might benefit from this holistic approach to treating pain.
Wow, according to the experts, this laser therapy stuff does more than stimulate temporary increases in blood circulation and pain relief, but did you note the escape clause I highlighted in bold? “Might benefit” is a favorite of woo-wooers trying to ensure they don’t get sued.
But how does it work you ask? Here’s their explanation:
Like veterinary acupuncture, laser therapy stimulates the body to heal from within. Non-thermal photons of light are administered to the body and absorbed by the injured cells. The cells are then stimulated and respond with a higher rate of metabolism. This results in increased circulation from the body, an anti-inflammatory reaction, relief from pain and an acceleration of the healing process.
Non-thermal photons of light! That DOES sound impressive, but what the fuck does that mean? And how can it be non-thermal when the FDA specifically says that a Class IV Penetrating Laser delivers Infrared topical-heat therapy?
Well, trying to explain what a non-thermal photon is gets into some heavy physics concepts which even the experts say they don’t fully understand, but from what I can gather it’s not the sort of thing that’s easily producible as it tends to come from stuff in space like supernovas, pulsars, radio galaxies, Seyfert galaxies, BL Lacertae objects, and GRBs. As far as I know, and I could be wrong, we don’t have anything on a commercial scale that could produce non-thermal photons that you’d use in medical therapy.
You’ll note that they don’t explain how a non-thermal photon stimulates the cells to a higher rate of metabolism, they just say that it does and expect you to trip over the buzz words enough that you accept the claim. For true humor, however, you have to consider their list of symptoms that you may want to consider Laser Therapy to treat:
Most of our laser therapy patients are older dogs with musculoskeletal ailments. Some signs that your dog is experiencing pain that laser treatment may be able to assuage:
Abnormal sitting or lying posture
Whining, groaning or other vocalizing
Limping, unable to get up or lie down
Difficulty getting into car or down stairs
Lack of grooming
Won’t wag tail
Licking or biting area
Lack of appetite
Could you possibly be any more vague while still covering as wide a range of possibilities?
Again, it’s not that the therapy doesn’t do anything because it does. So does a warm compress or a heating pad applied to the affected area and for the same reasons. Heat is a traditional treatment for sore muscles and joints as it promotes blood flow and relaxes muscles. The folks at AAAH say that your dog may go to sleep during treatment and your cat will purr. Well of course they will, it’s a warm massage.
The next question is, how much does it cost? According to the representative I spoke to on the phone (prices aren’t listed on the website) the initial treatment is $50 on top of $55 office visit fee and then $40 for each additional treatment. Or you can sign your pet up for a series of six treatments for $210. The number of treatments varies depending on the specific problem your pet is suffering from, but seeing as many of the problems this treatment is dealing with are age-related it’s likely that you’ll need to go back more than a few times. Depending on your income level that may or may not be an unreasonable amount of money to spend, but when you can get similar results from a heating pad or a heated pet bed, well, you have to wonder if it’s worth the money. Still, at least it actually does something as opposed to acupuncture or giving your dog homeopathic water.
Finding this nonsense in the local news website, however, really bugs the shit out of me. Especially when it’s presented in such a non-critical fashion. We already spend billions on our pets every year because we consider them to be part of the family. Is it too much to ask that we not be fleeced by questionable treatments from supposed professionals? It makes me loathe to read the Ann Arbor.com website the same way that all the woo-woo crap on The Huffington Post makes me loathe to read that website. Which is a shame because both sites have plenty of good stuff to offer which is just undermined by the bullshit.
Still, there’s always a silver lining and this one comes in the comments to both of those articles. First, from Rick Kuick in the article about the snake bite:
“If you are a believer in homeopathics (which I happen to be, based on personal experience)…”
I believe – I believe they contain water and little else.
And then in the earlier article on penetrating lasers there were two comments that brought a swell of pride to my chest. The first from Amlive reads:
With all due respect, I smell nonsense and snake oil here, not unlike many other questionable science permeating the field of “holistic medicine”.
When studies confirming benefits and science of these therapies show up in NEJM, I might start listening. Until then, I have to put this up there with homeopathy (which means I’m sure there’s a market for it here in Ann Arbor).
And the latter from Trespass:
Is this news reporting? Even soft news should be generally accepted medical/scientific fact not holistic nonsense. It damages the credibility of a news organization.
Yes, it does this skeptic’s heart much good to see there our others out there questioning this nonsense being in a supposedly legitimate news source.
The manager wasn’t available, so the caller told the employee who answered that he was from the corporate office and was calling about a customer who had lost her wallet at the store. He said a wallet was turned in the prior week with $1,200 but the money was missing when the owner came to claim it. He went on to say surveillance footage showed an employee taking the money, and it needed to be replaced to avoid being sued by the rightful owner.
The man instructed her to gather all the money in the store, get in a taxi and meet a man described as the owner’s fiancé at a McDonald’s in Milwaukee. Because of the ongoing internal investigation, she was to tell no one of her activities.
She followed his directions and handed off more than $400 to a man. After returning to the store, the man called to tell her she did a good job and would be receiving a raise. If the store took in any more money that day, she was to deliver that, too, he added.
You see that part I highlighted up there? That should be a big red warning flag that someone is trying to scam you. Why the hell would you be sent to a McDonald’s to hand over something as important as all of the store’s cash to the fiance of someone you’ve never met?
But don’t feel too bad, you weren’t the only idiot person to fall for it:
A second incident, this time at Things Remembered, never got to the point where a money drop was mentioned. But the caller did ask the employee to step into a bathroom, back office or hallway so he wouldn’t be overheard discussing a sensitive matter. He didn’t believe it was a coincidence that jewelry boxes valued at $120 were missing after the conversation.
The good news is that several other people at other stores, not yours, managed to realize it was a scam and hung up on the caller. You really have to be pretty gullible not to realize you were being scammed based on the stories you were being told, but perhaps the fellow sounded really authoritative so I probably shouldn’t judge.