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Multiple Failures - Does No One Care? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

A couple of weeks ago, I reported on Zicam and how it was NOT a homeopathic drug but claimed to be one so as to gain the marketing boost that the label unfortunately provides as well as to fall under a special class in the FDA wherein the "drug" receives less scrutiny. This lack of scrutiny allowed this dangerous substance that has caused 900 people to lose their sense of smell to reach market.

Today, I found this Bloomberg article reporting that the FDA admits the homeopathy label let this product slip by:

Zicam’s homeopathic label allowed it to be marketed for a decade without a review for safety or effectiveness by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The article then goes on to say:

Homeopathic products -- over-the-counter remedies that use plant, mineral or animal derivatives -- don’t need marketing clearance from the FDA under U.S. rules.

And therein, lies the problem. Bloomberg has it completely WRONG. Homeopathic does not mean naturopathic. AT ALL. Homeopathic means substance in extreme dillution – so extreme that there is no chance of even one molecule being present. Homeopathy has NO ACTIVE INGREDIENTS. I apologize for shouting, but apparently Bloomberg and dozens of other news outlets still don't know what homeopathy is, and perpetuate the myth that homeopathy is synonymous with the less-ludicrous but potentially-as-dangerous naturopathy.

Zicam said the product was homeopathic, but it was not. The FDA didn't bother to check (could it be that they don't know what homeopathy is either?), Zicam made a lot of money, 900 people can no longer smell, and Randi's article from SIX YEARS AGO was ignored.

I decided to consult a dictionary for the meanings of "homeopathic" and "naturopathic," but even there, I was stymied. From reference.com:

ho⋅me⋅op⋅a⋅thy
/ˌhoʊmiˈɒpəθi/  [hoh-mee-op-uh-thee]
-noun
the method of treating disease by drugs, given in minute doses, that would produce in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the disease

This is factual, with the exception that they miss the main point which is that "minute" means "non-existent."

I have explained what homeopathy is to friends and family, and they flat out don't believe me. They media back up their incorrect conclusions, and they write me off as someone with an axe to grind against alt-med. But really, all the evidence you need is on the box. A 30C or 100X or whatever preparation of any homeopathic remedy CONTAINS NO ACTIVE INGREDIENT.

A definitive explanation of homeopathy can be found on Quackwatch. And here's a single sentence that should be enough to warn people away from homeopathy:

A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. Assuming that a cubic centimeter of water contains 15 drops, this number is greater than the number of drops of water that would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth.

So, to summarize the two points of this article. 1) Homeopathy has no ingredients, the public doesnt know this, and the FDA doesn't scrutinize them. And 2) Zicam lied about the fact that their product contained active conentrations, and the FDA didn't even bother to read the ingredients label.

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written by Kuroyume, July 19, 2009
In the world of laissez-faire terminologies, homeopathic=naturopathic=herbal=voodoo=ancientwisdom. Woo-woo people tend to lump chiropractics, chakras, crystals, auras, and anything *unfounded* into one big bucket of mystical knowledge with some common denominator (in our case, that is bullshit, as you know).

From the rash of problems caused by so-called herbal supplements and these verily so-called 'homeopathic' medications (which aren't), one would think that the FDA would get on the ball here and start some rigorous procedures to test these things. Again, as I've stated before, the Fda doesn't only administer drug regulations but also FOOD regulations. This is intended to cover anything ingested or injected into the body. Zicam is surely injected somewhere. Nothing put into the body should be taken at its word that the peddlers promote. According to these standards, I could release a new 'homeopathic supplement' with fatal amounts of mercury while not divulging the true amounts therein. Chinese lead comes to mind. Our systems have lapsed into comatose.
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written by Jeremy Henderson, July 19, 2009
Multpile Failures - Does No One Care?


Multiple misspellings in headlines, does no one care?

EDITED BY JEFFWAGG: One misspelling, which I cared enough to fix. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Basscadet, July 19, 2009
So, if I got it right, I can market whatever I fancy (even a slow killing poison) as long as I put it under a homeopathic label?????????

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written by Rogue Medic, July 19, 2009
I suppose that homeopathic doses of even botulism would be completely inert, but what about a 10C dilution?

According to the law of similars, would anything be a more appropriate treatment for botulism poisoning than botulism itself?
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written by Squid, July 19, 2009
I believe that the FDA has the attitude of "Let the fools waste their money, we're stretched too thin as it is." The only problem is when someone slips a harmful drug through using this particular loophole. Now, I don't have evidence or proof of this attitude, but I do know that the FDA can't cover our food supply due to being stretched too thin... so, if they can't cover the food we eat, how are they going to cover the drugs we take?
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Regarding the Naturopathic [yes, it's a dumb as the homeopathic]:
written by daijiyobu, July 20, 2009
Per: "Bloomberg and dozens of other news outlets still don't know what homeopathy is, and perpetuate the myth that homeopathy is synonymous with the less-ludicrous but potentially-as-dangerous naturopathy."

Actually, in my view, naturopathy is of greater ludicrousness.

NDs label their requisite homeopathy "science" [see http://www.nabne.org/nabne_page_23.php ], which is patently false, and NDs rigorously defend homeopathy [see http://www.citizen-times.com/a...0990624032 ].

NDs' schools are regionally accredited, they call themselves primary care practitioners, and of course, NDs falsely pose the most patently nonscientific 'junk thought' ideas to be in fact scientific.

-r.c.
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written by BMN, July 20, 2009
Now now, there's no rule that says homeopathic treatments have to be diluted to such extremes. How can you say a 1X dilution is not a valid homeopathic solution? Can you point to a rule in the homeopathic rule book that says it has to be more dilute than that? It seems to me that your definition of homeopathy is unjustifiably narrow.
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Sure they do!
written by dmitrybrant, July 20, 2009
"How can you say a 1X dilution is not a valid homeopathic solution? Can you point to a rule in the homeopathic rule book that says it has to be more dilute than that?"

If I'm not mistaken, the homeopathic "rule book" states that the more diluted the substance is, the more potent it becomes. So, by that logic, a 1X dilution would be completely ineffective compared to a 200C dilution. Jeff's quarrel is, understandably, with those homeopathic remedies that are the most "powerful!"
If Oscillococcinum were a 1X dilution, it might actually start to taste like duck liver, and really, who wants that?
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$1m challenge, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Homeopathic Remedies Need not contain no active ingredient
written by lecanardnoir, July 20, 2009
I am not so sure it is that simple to say that Zicam is not homeopathic because it actually contains an active ingredient. Many homeopathic remedies often do contain some remainder of the original substance, but usually in minute quantities.

More importantly, homeopaths claim that the defining aspect of a homeopathic remedy is that is adheres to their principle of the law of similars (similia similibus curentur). That is a substance that can cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure a person of those symptoms. The art of homeopathy is in selecting the right remedy that matches symptoms.

The extreme dilutions most often seen in homeopathy are just a method of delivery. The founder of homeopathy, Hahnemann, quite naturally found that giving people poisons was not a good idea and so he found that by diluting the remedy he could still achieve a placebo effect (although he did not know what it was) or even just allow people to get better on their own without inflicting his own side effects on them. Obviously, the more dilute a substance was, the less likely he was to poison his patients and so he thought that extreme dilution somehow 'activated' the remedy - as homeopaths now call it 'potentized'.

Now, many homeopaths since have tried other methods of delivery, with even modern ones trying to 'activate' MP3 recordings or (as I have just written about on my quackometer blog), using stands of hair dipped in the remedy to 'transmit' the healing properties to the patient.

Homeopaths are quite quick to jump on 'successes' in homeopthic research when non-diluted homeopathic remedies appear to show positive effects. See the latest Cochrane review of homeopathic treatments for cancer patients that used non-diluted topical creams.

Of course, homeopaths are quick to deny a substance is homeopathic if is fouund to cause harm, such as Zicam.

The answer is probably simply to not allow therapeutic claims for any product that describes itself as homeopathic.
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written by Rogue Medic, July 20, 2009
Herc,

There is a reason people become abusive when you post stuff like this. It makes no sense.

Consider what the book actually meant by, "A solution for 1 month is no solution at all".

Was it good advice? Nobody knows, because you have no way of determining if the advice is good advice, do you. Even the results of ignoring the advice are subjective.

It is more likely that the advice was about not using homeopathic treatments.

"A solution for 1 month is no solution at all".

Homeopathy is no solution at all. Homeopathy usess such a dilute solution, that there is nothing, but the memory of what was in it. The memory of everything that was ever in it. Back to the beginning of time. Fortunately, the homeopathic treatment is even more psychic than you are. It knows which memory to use to treat the illness.

So, when you claimed that this is off topic, your psychic insight was just plain wrong. smilies/shocked.gif
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written by LindaRosaRN, July 20, 2009
Thanks for this article. This should be a warning to those well meaning skeptics who showcase "overdoses" of homeopathic preparations for the press. John Renner, M.D., years ago tried to warn the public of dangerous contaminations that were being found.
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written by epok205, July 20, 2009
I don't understand the dictionary definition especially where it says "that would produce in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the disease". That sounds like it makes you sick.
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Homeopathic Bullett
written by Sadhatter, July 20, 2009
I have an idea.

Next time someone is shot with a large caliber bullet, take one that is ten times smaller, fire it into the same general area and see what happens.

I can't see anyone doing this, why , because it is obviously insane. But that is because i am missing something.

After we shoot the person we must shake the living hell out of them. ( You guessed it) Once up and down once right to left, and once forward and backward.

Now any intelligent person will conclude that this is the new frontier for medical science. Checks can be sent to my home.

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"I Shot the Homeopath...[but I swear it was his simillimum*]".
written by daijiyobu, July 20, 2009
Speaking of homeopathic bullets, I wrote this satire a while back

[http://satirizinghomeopathy.blogspot.com/ ]:

"Aiming to dilute me down...

I had no choice

But to bring the homeopath down.

The homeo. died in front of me,

The round was a blank...

She died homeopathically."

*the name of the ND's homeo. journal.

-r.c.
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written by Skemono, July 20, 2009
I don't understand the dictionary definition especially where it says "that would produce in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the disease". That sounds like it makes you sick.

Well, yes. But only if you were healthy to begin with.

Homeopathy starts with a "proving": they try to figure out what symptoms would be induced in a healthy person by some substance. Then they decide that if a person has those symptoms, they should use that same substance to cure them.
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What is the problem ?
written by Dr.Sid, July 20, 2009
Either the stuff breaks FDA rules, then sue them. Or it does not.
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written by monstrmac1, July 20, 2009
Other than outbursting over a small error by bloomberg I'm not sure the point of this article. The Zicam thing has been beaten to death, especially here at JREF. With all the other scams and injustice in the world can't we find something else to talk about? I don't think Bloomberg meant to misinform the public and I'm not sure its there responsibility to explain the differences between naturopathy and homeopathy especially since what they said applies to either category. The Zicam thing was a victory for skeptics so lets quit reveling in it like there will never be another.
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written by kenhamer, July 20, 2009
I don't think Bloomberg meant to misinform the public

"I didn't mean to kill him."

Does it really matter?

Particularly in the case of the news media who claim their purpose is to inform, misinforming their readers is especially egregious.

Perhaps the real issue is that someone has to take this "news" to Bloomberg itself, to educate them (which of course presumes they can be educated, and care to be.)
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written by monstrmac1, July 20, 2009
"I didn't mean to kill him."

Does it really matter?

Particularly in the case of the news media who claim their purpose is to inform, misinforming their readers is especially egregious.


Yes it really matters. You see they made their point without anyone dying. That is why accidental death and accidental misinformation is different. Didn't think I'd have to explain that one.

The thing is, they are seemingly on the skeptics side with this one. They are trying are bring the misgivings of the FDA to the public eye which is something the JREF should be applauding despite the fact that Bloomberg may get there "pathys" confused. I'm not an expert but Bloomberg probably has a much larger following than the SWIFT blog, so the article that should be on JREF is, "Bloomberg makes progress - finally someone cares".

However you rarely see that kind of positive reinforcement on this site anymore. It seems like the role of skeptics has been reduced to expressing outrage over every minor thing that doesn't further their agenda.

The whole topic would have been better handled if Randi or Mr. Wagg would have sent a letter to the editor or placed a phone call asking that the article be corrected in the next issue. Then they could have posted a transcript of that call or email on the BLOG and followed up if they received a response. I feel this method would have informed the masses much better than correcting on SWIFT because in comparison the readers of SWIFT are much more likely to know the difference in homeo and naturo than the readers of Bloomberg are.

I suppose all of this would be just a little to productive for the new SWIFT blog however.

I'm sure Alison Smith will do a Woo-in-review about the Bloomberg article citing faulty science and that Bloomberg should no longer be trusted. Of course given most of Alison's articles that would be a drastic upgrade.....
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written by Herc, July 21, 2009

by Rogue Medic, July 20, 2009
Herc,

There is a reason people become abusive when you post stuff like this. It makes no sense.

Consider what the book actually meant by, "A solution for 1 month is no solution at all".

Was it good advice? Nobody knows, because you have no way of determining if the advice is good advice, do you. Even the results of ignoring the advice are subjective.

It is more likely that the advice was about not using homeopathic treatments.

"A solution for 1 month is no solution at all".

Homeopathy is no solution at all. Homeopathy usess such a dilute solution, that there is nothing, but the memory of what was in it. The memory of everything that was ever in it. Back to the beginning of time. Fortunately, the homeopathic treatment is even more psychic than you are. It knows which memory to use to treat the illness.

So, when you claimed that this is off topic, your psychic insight was just plain wrong



When I first read your reply I thought you were a bit daft, but an hour later I realise you are exactly right, what better channel to post into this topic than "no solution at all". But it's a double (triple) meaning, it also answered my question perfectly about dating, whether the advice was good or not the random text read just like a person answering. BTW Rogue Medic is an obvious person/alias to point out the channel on homeopathy. You have met your fate.

So is anyone going to answer my question. If I can read random text just like a person answering a question and it looks obviously paranormal the more you see it, but there's no objective pass criteria, is there any way to prove it's paranormal? One way might be to have 10 control participants and we all channel in front of a judge who doesn't know who is the claimant. He makes a (subjective) decision who is the best channel, then another judge does the same thing. If all the judges pick me as the best channel then it would seem I was paranormal.

Herc
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written by Rogue Medic, July 21, 2009
So is anyone going to answer my question. If I can read random text just like a person answering a question and it looks obviously paranormal the more you see it, but there's no objective pass criteria, is there any way to prove it's paranormal?


You are reading text that can be interpreted to fit what you are thinking about, because you are interpreting it after the fact. If you decided ahead of time, this would indicate yes and this would indicate no, you probably would have a record of 5% - 10%.Nothing more than coincidence being interpreted in light of the desired answer.


One way might be to have 10 control participants and we all channel in front of a judge who doesn't know who is the claimant. He makes a (subjective) decision who is the best channel, then another judge does the same thing. If all the judges pick me as the best channel then it would seem I was paranormal.



And if you use your paranormal skills to convince JREF to test you, that will really prove something. We don't know what it will prove, but it will be something.
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written by LovleAnjel, July 21, 2009
If I can read random text just like a person answering a question and it looks obviously paranormal the more you see it, but there's no objective pass criteria, is there any way to prove it's paranormal?


How are you choosing a sentence? Are you scanning the page? Randomly looking? Are you, eyes closed, swinging your finger in the air and then dropping it somewhere on the page? If your eyes are open, even for a second or two, your brain could be processing the words on the page and picking the sentence that looks like a good answer, without you knowing. Our brains are awesome like that.

Even without the paranormal, this would be a great party trick.
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written by LovleAnjel, July 21, 2009
@ Squid

I believe that the FDA has the attitude of "Let the fools waste their money, we're stretched too thin as it is." The only problem is when someone slips a harmful drug through using this particular loophole. Now, I don't have evidence or proof of this attitude, but I do know that the FDA can't cover our food supply due to being stretched too thin... so, if they can't cover the food we eat, how are they going to cover the drugs we take?


The FDA doesn't have that attitude, they wanted to regulate the supplement industry. A whole bunch of lawmakers, in response to industry lobbyists, drafted and passed legislation that prevented the FDA from monitoring supplements, and created NCCAM instead. (This is why skeptics think "big pharma" is such a big joke.)

The FDA doesn't do most of the work on pharmaceuticals, the regulations require that the companies making the supplements do rigorous testing & research. The FDA reviews the scientists, labs, tests and results of tests before making decisions, but they do little testing themselves.

With food as well, the role of the FDA is monitoring and quality control, not intensive testing (in fact, food processing plants would have to spend their own money to test their products if the law ever required it, which it doesn't-- thanks lobbyists!).

Every time the budget comes up for review, they cut more money and people from the FDA, so there are not enough inspectors around to check everybody in a timely manner.
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written by cwniles, July 21, 2009
Q. Are Herc's claims of paranormal ability valid?

(scans through random page in random book for random sentence)

A. It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail.



hmmm, not quite sure how to interpret that but my initial reaction would be that it bodes well for you Herc.
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written by Rogue Medic, July 21, 2009
@Dr.Sid,

Either the stuff breaks FDA rules, then sue them. Or it does not.


If it breaks the FDA rules, the regulatory agency is the one to deal with that rule breaking.

If it does not break FDA rules, that does not mean that it is safe, or that there is nothing else that should be done.

Must be wonderful living in a world of black and white. Everything is decided for you by rules made by other people. You never need to think about anything, except is this legal? smilies/cheesy.gif
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Herc
written by Sadhatter, July 21, 2009
There would be a very easy test of your claim.

I will give you a list of books i own numbered from 1 to 15, you can tell me which book you would have picked and which page and line you would look at. ( i mean if you can only do this with your books, memorization could be happening to some extent.)

We will do 10 sets of 10, 1 being yours the other nine being random phrases from either the books or possibly other books. The list of the books i actually own as well as the phrases and results that you picked will be given to an impartial 3rd party, so you know that your results were calculated validly.

Point being, if you have a power, you should easily pick the phrases that answer your questions from the random information selected from other sources. Of course this would be a rather simple test, and would have to be followed up using a much larger number of books to even begin to show evidence that there is anything other than wishful thinking going on.
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Homeopathic Car Preparation
written by LindaRosaRN, July 21, 2009
About the above idea of making the homeopathic bullet preparation, here it is done with a fellow hit by a car:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0
Thanks to Mitchell and Webb
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Take the handcuffs off the FDA
written by Kajabla61, July 21, 2009
To those who asked and or criticized the FDA - There are real scientists inside the FDA who would do something if they could. Randi pointed out in some of his previous articles that congress, under pressure from money grubbing corporations, has told the FDA "Hands off!" and if I remember correctly this was in 1984. We are still suffering the effects of lousy law first, and restrained FDA second.
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Links to articles about problems at the FDA
written by MDeaver, July 21, 2009
Problems at the FDA have not materialized overnight, instead being the result of many years of too-little funding, of laws passed by Congress that hamper the FDA, and other reasons. For example, the FDA lacks the legal authority to order mandatory recalls. The FDA's funding levels have not kept up with the requirements of the agency's job.

Here are some links of interest:

tinyurl.com/mdbzk5 : Response by Consumers Union to a recent call by President Obama for FDA review. Has information on problems at the FDA.

tinyurl.com/lw4tbo : Editorial by Jim Guest, President of Consumers Union, outlining problems at the FDA.

tinyurl.com/dcdqv3 : From MSNBC; probably the best of the three on-line articles; goes into detail about what's been happening at the FDA and what's caused its decline over the last several decades. Scary reading, I must say.

[You'll have to copy/paste these links into your browsers; I'm unable to get randi.org's Joomla software to accept the links in their original form].
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@ Herc
written by Human Person Jr, July 21, 2009
Herc, it might be that many here are predisposed to dismiss your claims because they remember other absurd claims you've made in the past. You've claimed to be THE Hercules from mythology, if I'm not mistaken. You've offered to pay someone from the US to come to your area to observe your paranormal powers, which were described far differently from the one you claimed above.

What happened to the other claims you've made in the past? Are those special powers still intact (as if they ever were...)? Some people urged you to seek medical help in previous posts. That should signal to you, or anyone else, that you were pretty far out there. You seem like a garden variety nutcase to me. (I knew a guy once, who claimed to be able to make people on television do exactly what he wanted them to do. Once, when he claimed to be using that "special power," I mentioned that the show was recorded in advance, and that he couldn't possibly influence past events that were already recorded. He blithely assured me that he could and did affect recorded television programs, and, in the process, altered every extant recording of that particular program. I should also mention that he attempted suicide once by sitting on a sharp, jagged stick, TRUTH, which resulted in multiple surgeries to repair the damage.)
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Homeopathetic TV Spot
written by Holmstrom, July 21, 2009
In response to a TV ad, (Dr Somebody or other,) that runs every few minutes, it seems, the announcer says, "to find out how to double your order, call now."
Save your dough...just add water!
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written by Herc, July 21, 2009
Remember my 'by name by nature' claim, where people's posts to me reflect their message?

Well, LovleAnjel naturally says all the right things.

I usually read 1 paragraph from the bottom, so I have a bit of room to read.
But I can just as easily select the very top sentence on the page for testing.

It would be a good party trick but I'd have to do it 10 or 20 times for some good answers, and people so far ask dumb questions.

Not fond of remote channeling, but just for a demo of my power, what is on top of page 100 on book 10?
My prediction is something about my power being valid.

Herc
I am Hercules, I'm also Adam of the bible, and there is an Eve - the perfect 10, I'm also the Truman
the stud of homosapiens, homosapien2, Graham Cooper the groom computer (you better not kill the groom)

Basically every second great fictional man in history is prophecy about the same man, just like every second song is about me.
He says all the right things at exactly the right time. ??? Who would make up lyrics like that?
Great Southern Land, he walks alone, like a primitive man.
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written by Squid, July 22, 2009
Herc, if you're wanting us to believe you have these poweres, then we ask something of you... what would it take for you to believe that you don't have these powers? You're asking us to take a great leap of faith on just your word... you, therefore, must be willing to make such a leap of faith yourself. I don't know about the JREF, but some of the members are willing to put you up to the test. The question is, are you willing?

Squid
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@ Herc again, for the last time ever
written by Human Person Jr, July 22, 2009
Herc, I won't address another comment to you. Your bullshit is boring in the extreme. I don't see why one of your friends or family members hasn't dragged you to see a doctor by now. If I had such an idiot in my circle, you can bet your ass I would do something about it.

You're a nutcase, for whatever reason. You might have some physical health problem that manifests itself in psychosis. My dad was treated for mental illness for two years before someone did the proper testing to diagnose his real problem, which was entirely physical in nature. Unfortunately, he couldn't be cured because the diagnosis came too late.

Go to a doctor, Herc. I wish you luck, since you're a fellow human, but I sure as hell get tired of your word soup. The shit you write makes no sense whatever. You're not even able to cogently make a claim as to your special powers. Your writing is one non sequitur after another. YOU ARE NOT RIGHT, HERC, YOU'RE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO RIGHT. Your disjointed, rambling thought fragments are evidence of potentially serious problems. Get help, soon. Best of luck to you.
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PROOF ON SIGHT
written by Herc, July 22, 2009
You don't even need a proof. All you have to do is get a skeptic/reporter who travels to or lives in Townsville Australia to meet me for 1 minute. Surely with the resources of JFREF that's no biggie.

There is a spy satellite with audio capabilities that follows me everywhere, yes I know use alfoil.

Everyone in public who sees me can hear my thoughts broadcast out aloud, for the last 7 years 1000s of residents of Townsville have heard the mind probe, and it instantly proves I am the Truman.

There's been PROOF ON SIGHT for 7 years and you've all been sitting on your asses.
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