It has been well over two years since I last made a video correcting ten mistakes made on my YouTube channel. I would like to think this length of time is a reflection of the amount of research and fact checking that goes into every single video, but the truth is that another correction video is well overdue. Luckily for me, my audience loves nothing more than pointing out inconsistencies, misconceptions, and flat-out errors in my content, which means I have an abundance of things to correct.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 Myles Power f**-ups, starting with…
1. Everything in The League of Nerds
I know this appeared in my last top ten mistakes, but it is still true now. Virtually anything said in The League of Nerds podcast. Although my co-hosts, James and Buck, and myself spend a large part of our week, practically every week, researching topics for new shows, the relaxed, unscripted format of the show means that mistakes are bound to happen. This can lead to some entertaining content, as the Nerds argue about who is right and wrong, but a lot of the time these mistakes go unchallenged. If you do find any of these mistakes, I would ask you to let us know in the comment section and to remember to take every TLoNs episode with a pinch of salt.
2. Inappropriate Thumbnail – My Experience Giving a ProGMO Talk at Skeptic Events
In the video, ‘My Experience Giving a ProGMO Talk at Skeptic Events’, I discussed some of the interactions I had with people in attendance who were overtly hostile to me. This included a man who, whilst pointing at my face, said that I was “spreading propaganda”, someone who demanded I put a disclaimer on my presentation saying I work for Monsanto (even though I don’t), and a woman who went off on a five minute monologue about how genetically modifying an organism is rape. Although I stand by everything that I said in that video, there are two things, in hindsight, I would have done differently. The first is that I would not have used the image taken of me giving the abridged version of my talk at QED (an annual skeptical conference held in Manchester) as a thumbnail. The reason I used this picture is purely down to vanity, as I thought I look good, and I never stopped to think about what it was implying. This was until I attended QED this year and a fellow attendee asked if I had a bad experience the year before when the picture was taken. Only then did I realise what my thumbnail was implying, and I felt mortified. To all those who might have been offended, I would like to apologise, and I would like to end by saying that I highly recommend QED. It’s a place where you can see and meet some interesting people, whilst having a pint at the same time.
3. Glyphosphate – Is Glyphosate “Probably Carcinogenic to Humans”?
I don’t think there is a single video or podcast I have made in the last 7 years where I haven’t accidentally mispronounced something, but there is one video that has haunted me and, after only a few days, was removed from my channel. The original Is Glyphosate “Probably Carcinogenic to Humans” was a collaboration between myself and fellow Nerd James Gurney, where we looked at the evidence the WHO used to classify the active ingredient in Round-Up, Glyphosate, as probably carcinogenic. Unfortunately, throughout the video both James and myself kept mispronouncing the word, which lead to the video been pulled. A few months later, we re-recorded the video and uploaded it with a slight nod to the first one.
4. That’s not Ruth Conrad – Black Salve – Cancer ‘Treatment’ That Burns Holes in You!
Black salve is a paste made from a mixture of Bloodroot extract and zinc chloride that, when applied directly to the skin, will cause the cells to die. It does this by physically burning the skin with zinc chloride and inhibiting sodium-potassium pumps on the surface of the cells with compounds found in the Bloodroot extract. This creates a thick black dry clump of necrotic tissue called an “eschar” which will eventually separate from the surrounding area causing scarring and potentially serious injury and disfigurement. In the video Black Salve – Cancer ’Treatment’ That Burns Holes in You!, I mentioned a woman named Ruth Conrad who was horrifically disfigured after her naturopath recommended it. Within a few days, her face became painful, but her naturopath encouraged her to apply more paste to her face. Within a week, a large part of her face, including her nose, dropped off. At the end of my story, I showed a picture of a woman who I believed was Ruth, whose nose was completely destroyed. It turns out that picture was another woman who was the victim of this worrying quackery. Her name was Gail Bumpus and in 2005, she contacted a plastic surgeon called Jerome Craft about possible surgery for excess skin under her nose. Without taking a biopsy, he told her that she was actually suffering from cancer, but that it could be removed using black salve. Almost immediately after the black paste was applied, she started to complain about pain but was convinced by Craft that she would be ok. Ten days of excruciating pain later, she finally went to the hospital where the dead tissue was removed from her nasal area, revealing that her entire nose had been burnt off. So, although I got the wrong woman, the stories are very similar.
5. Crap Paper Quoted as Evidence – Golden Rice and Why You Should Not Fund Greenpeace
In my opinion, Greenpeace were once a force for good, but have since become a husk of their former selves as their once unpopular views have been adopted by the general public, leaving them with only their outdated anti-science opinions on certain technologies. The organisation is now only attractive to those who share its archaic dogmatic views and has now become a rabble of ideologues who peddle an agenda no matter what the scientific consensus says, and nowhere is this more apparent than in their militant (and almost hysterical) opposition of GMOs.
Back in 2015, I made a video, ‘Golden Rice and Why You Should Not Fund Greenpeace’, which went somewhat viral. In the video, I talked about the basics of Golden Rice, a GMO that is capable of producing a precursor to vitamin A, which may help some of the 1-2 million deaths and 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. I also talked about Greenpeace’s opposition to the rice and was particularly critical of the misinformation they spread, which was clearly not targeted towards those who this rice could help. I went as far as saying that you should not give any money to this organisation because if you do, even if you are only giving a few quid to a chugger on the street, you are helping to fund this misinformation and are playing a part in the contribution to the death and suffering of millions of people. Even to this day, it is one of the videos I am most proud of and, for the most part, is watertight – apart from one error that, unless you have the eyes of a hawk, you will never see.
In the video, I talked about a Professor Teresit Ramos-Peres who (rather worryingly…) works for the department of environmental sciences at Ateneo de Manila University. She starred in the video produced by Greenpeace designed to warn rich English speaking westerners about the dangers of this rice titled, ‘All that All that Glitters is not Gold – The Truth about GE Golden’ Rice’. In it, she says when referring to GMOs in general that,
“The biotech company claims that there is no ecological impact; nor impacts on the health of the population, but we have not found any publication regarding such claims. I am a scientist and I try to do research in the relevant publications on these issues, and I have not seen anything. What is the basis for their claim?”
At this point in my video, I go over some of the 2000+ published reports in the scientific literature that document the general safety and nutritional wholesomeness of GM foods and feeds. One of my eagle-eyed viewers noticed that reference 157 was to Árpád Pusztai’s 1999 paper, “Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine”.
This is the same paper a woman named Tracey Lloyed quoted at the March Against Monsanto protest in Nottingham as proof that GMOs cause harm. She later went on to say that because of his controversial findings, Pusztai lost his job when, in reality, his annual contract was not renewed after he lied about the findings of his then unpublished research on national television, in what would become known as the Pusztai affair. His work was eventually published in the Lancet “to avoid suspicions of a conspiracy against Pusztai and to give colleagues a chance to see the data for themselves”. His findings and the experiment itself were almost immediately criticised for having a poor design, containing uncertainties in the composition of diets, testing too few rats, using incorrect statistical methods and lacking consistency within experiments. If you would like to know more about the story and what the paper actually said, I covered it in my first ever Fact Checking March Against Monsanto Protesters video.
It was a risk when I copied and pasted the list of some of the thousands of peer-reviewed reports in the scientific literature from a reputable website without checking every single one of them. This one somehow got through the gaps, but it does not change the fact that there are still thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers that document the general safety and nutritional wholesomeness of GM food and feeds.
6. Carbon Dioxide concentration out by a factor of ten – The Food Babe Has Her Head in the Clouds
The Food Babe is an American blogger and activist who has become very popular over the past few years after campaigning against certain chemical ingredients used by large fast food corporations in their products. Basically, she made a very comfortable living for herself from searching for a chemical used in food manufacture that also has another use in industry and telling people to not eat it because……reasons. For example, in 2013 she led a campaign to stop Subway using a compound known as azodicarbonamide in the production of bread because it’s also used in the production of some plastics.
Last year, I came across something The Food Babe has desperately tried to hide from her audience because it shows them, no matter their level of scientific understanding, that she does not have a clue.
Back in 2011, the Food Babe published a blog post that she has since deleted called ‘Food Babe Travel Essentials – No Reason to Panic on the Plane!’ but, as we all know, nothing is truly deleted from the internet. The post is by far one of her strangest, but it is also incredibly revealing. This is because for the first time we are seeing her true level of knowledge, paranoia, and lack of common sense. This is because she wrote this in a vacuum, isolated from the internet and those who would correct her. You see, she wrote this post as she was flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo and presumably did not have any internet to fact check any of the claims she was making – and boy oh boy does it make for an interesting read. One of strangest things she said was that…well….read for yourself.
“The air you are breathing on an airplane is recycled from directly outside of your window. That means you are breathing everything that the airplanes gives off and is flying through. The air that is pumped in isn’t pure oxygen either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%. To pump a greater amount of oxygen in costs money in terms of fuel and the airlines know this! The nitrogen may affect the times and dosages of medications, make you feel bloated and cause your ankles and joints swell.”
In the video, ‘The Food Babe Has Her Head in the Clouds’, I ripped into her and how ridiculous it is to think that the airliners purposefully pump in nitrogen because it is cheaper and that the air you breathe is already approximately 78% nitrogen. However, I went on to list some of the other gasses that compose the atmosphere, rather embarrassingly misread my script, and got the percentage of carbon dioxide out by a factor of ten. I said it made up 0.3% of the atmosphere when it actually makes up 0.03. How embarrassing.
7. Multiple Mutations Needed to Change Complex Behavior – Rebecca Watson’s Dishonest Representation of Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary psychology (EP), in the past, has had a fair amount of criticism from people accusing it of justifying social hierarchies, gender roles, and racial stereotypes. Its proponents have argued back saying that most of the criticisms are straw men and based on incorrect or inaccurate information. And nowhere is there a better example of this than Rebecca Watson’s talk titled “How Girls Evolved to Shop” which was given at Skepticon 5. A talk in which she tried to convince the audience that evolutionary psychology is not science and it exists to deliberately reinforce stereotypes and oppress women.
In 2016 I made a video response to Watson’s, quite frankly, appalling lecture – criticising her for misleading her audience into thinking that an EP satire paper was published in a reputable journal, using media reports of EP rather than the scientific literature to unfairly cast a shadow on the subject, and for saying that EP is based on the belief that the human brain has not evolved for the past 10k years, and that this “contradicts what we know about evolution”. Unfortunately, whilst countering her last argument that EP proponents believe that humans are not evolving, I made a very sloppy remark.
“Whilst it is true that evolution never stops, 10,000 years for an animal whose average generation time is 22-32 years is not very long. This is why in us humans, there have been virtually no major physiological changes. Our ability to produce lactase throughout our lifespan allowing us to drink milk is the exception and not the rule and is the result of only two single mutations which pales in comparison to the number of changes required to alter complex behaviours.”
Saying that a large number of mutations are required to alter complex behaviours without giving an example, qualifying it with a number range, or giving a reference, is extremely sloppy. Research looking into behaviour mutation (a genetic mutation that alters Genes that control the way in which an organism behaves, causing their behavioural patterns to change) does exist and if I would have taken the time to quote one of these examples, my argument would have been a lot stronger. People very quickly brought this to my attention, including the professor of biology PZ Myers in his blog post “Myles Power’s dishonest defence of evolutionary psychology”.
PZ’s blog failed to counter the 3 core sections of my video and blog, and is a perfect example of him spitting venom online for views and attention. He criticised some of the people who commented on my video that said Watson, who only has a major in communications, should not be talking about a science-related subject (something I disagree with), before bashing me for not having a PhD in evolutionary bio. He said I must be some sort of mind-reader when I said Watson intentionally mislead her audience into thinking a satire paper was published in a reputable journal, before probing my mind to discover that the only reason I made the video was to pander to a mob or MRAs. He criticised me for not quoting any EP literature, but then why would I? My point was that it was disingenuous to base all your arguments on the media’s bastardised science reporting, not to promote any particular EP paper. Finally, and most embarrassingly, to counter my point that EP believes that humans are constantly evolving, but that 10k years is not enough time for any significant changes, PZ simply says “they do”, and hilariously links to an EP FAQ page which actually backs me up and says that they believe humans can evolve in that time, but not much. *Slow clap*
8. That’s Not Agent Orange – Agent Orange Part 1 & 2
I know I have already corrected this mistake – this huge chemistry mistake – in my first two videos documenting the history of Agent Orange, but it is worth mentioning again. I stated with some confidence that Monsanto, out of all the suppliers, produced the largest quantity of (what would become known as) Agent Orange during the Vietnam War when, in actuality, it was the Dow Chemical Company. I also somehow got the two compounds that make up Agent Orange wrong and said that it was made from two carboxylic acids when, in actuality, it was made from the n-butyl esters of these carboxylic acids. These mistakes were so bad that I had to make a mini episode correcting them, but even that isn’t good enough. When I look at the first video’s introduction and the part where I state what my goals are, I cringe, because since recording them I have spent a lot more time with my head in the books, and now the conclusion and my thoughts on Agent Orange have changed – meaning that I am not going to achieve my goals, and I think I am going to look like more of a shill than ever.
9. Number of Nerve Endings on the Foreskin – The Science of Circumcision
Perhaps one of my most controversial videos of all time is ‘The Science of Circumcision’, where every single word I have said has been dissected and the slightest of errors exposed. For this reason, the video was mentioned twice in the last correction video because I incorrectly said there is no link between reduced UTI and circumcision, after misunderstanding the NHS’s standpoint, and I was coming across as being flippant about research that shows a decreased risk of female to male transmission of HIV. In my defence, the video was targeted towards a Western audience – something that I made very clear in the video when I stated that condoms are the only protection against HIV. I did not, contrary to what some people think, say that there is no evidence of this decreased risk of HIV transmission and, in fact, after presenting an abridged version of my AIDS denialism talk in Manchester back in 2015, I defended the research – saying that it can save lives.
I thought I had corrected everything from that video but a chap called Stephen Moreton found one more error. In my video, I mention that there are between 10,000-20,000 nerve endings compacted into the human foreskin, which are used in the ejaculation reflex. Turns out this number came from paediatrician Dr. Paul Fleiss and his article “The Case Against Circumcision”, which was published in the magazine Mothering. Some of you might recognise Paul as the now-late-AIDS-denialist Christine Maggiore’s pediatrition, who was investigated for his role in the death of Eliza Jane Scovill from untreated AIDS. This is another example of me being sloppy and not checking the sources or my sources, however, even with this mistake, the point is valid. The foreskin does play a part in the ejaculation reflex and is an important component of the overall sensory mechanism of the human penis.
Although I was grateful that Stephen pointed out this mistake to me, I would like to take the time to remind people online that there are civil ways to communicate with people you disagree with. Essentially, it comes down to this – don’t be a dick! And if there is one thing Stephen is, it’s a dick.
For example, when I had the misfortune of meeting Stephen in real life and explained my position on circumcision – that I am against it for infants unless it is to alleviate a specific medical problem, even in countries where HIV is rampant. This is because I do not think the benefits outweigh the costs, and I believe that when a young man gets to an age where sexually transmitted diseases like HIV become a problem, he is of an age to make that decision for himself. I later went on to say that I understand the risks with circumcision increase with age, and the fact that most young men probably won’t want to get a sensitive part of their body cut, which will more than likely, in certain parts of the world, result in more people being infected with HIV, but that I believe that it’s the boy/man’s right to choose what happens to his body.
However, having this opinion, according to people like Steven, is unthinkable, as he countered by accusing me of playing my part in the deaths of people who have committed suicide because of bodged circumcisions. He also was very rude to me via email and comments left on my website, and even decided to slag me off on PZ Myers’ hit piece on me.
10. Grapefruit Made by Atomic Gardening Not Commercially Available – Why Does Greenpeace Like the Grapefruit?
A GMO, by definition, is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. However, it might surprise you to hear that there are techniques that can alter the DNA of an organism which do not come under the umbrella term of a “genetic engineering technique”. Meaning you can use them to alter the DNA of an organism, but it will not technically be a GMO. So, you would think Greenpeace would be against this technology and its products…..but they are not!
‘Why does Greenpeace like BLANK’ is turning into one of my favourite video formats, where I quote a reason why the organisation opposes GMOs and ask why they are ok with similar products that are not technically GMOs. For example, in my first video, I asked why organisms whose DNA has been brute-force changed by exposure to radiation sources is ok, but a specific mutation made in an organism using a genetic engineering technique is not. The example I gave was the Ruby Red grapefruit, which I am sure many of you can find at your local greengrocer. The only problem is that, although a Ruby Red was created with desirable traits using this technique, it never actually came onto the market – it was actually a different breed of grapefruit that was created in this manner. Even with this mistake, the point still stands that it is hypocritical of Greenpeace to oppose GMOs, but not mutants made by atomic gardening.
So, there we have it to the top 10 f**k-ups on my YouTube channel and, although I only mentioned the 10, be assured there are plenty more, which is why I need your help to point them out to me. One thing I will ask is that if you do find a mistake, that you don’t be a dick about it and make a fuss and start demanding things from me because, in reality, I will just take note of the error you have pointed out and then tell you to fuck off.