Student Questions: Magic Wristbands, Laser Danger, and ManBearPig

Skeptoid answers another round of questions sent in by students all around the world.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via Skeptoid

Read transcript below or listen here

Once again we’re taking a week to answer questions sent in by students all around the world. Any question is welcome from any student. Today we’re going to explore the question of whether Stanley Kubrick made The Shining as a confession that he was behind the alleged moon landing hoax; whether acupressure wristbands are a way to cure nausea or just a placebo; whether you should use hydrogen peroxide as a bactericide on minor wounds; the song Gloomy Sunday and if it has indeed been connected with an increased number of suicides; the true nature of whatever danger can be expected from common laser pointers; and whether we need to worry about hoards of human-animal hybrids swarming down from the mountains. Let’s get started at a creepy old lodge hidden away up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado:

Stanley Kubrick Faked the Moon Landings

Hello, Brian. I am a sophomore going to Mira Costa college in Oceanside, California. I recently heard about a conspiracy theory which states that Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining, is actually a big allusion to the fact that he helped NASA cover up the moon landings. This particular conspiracy was recently featured in the documentary, Room 237, and I was wondering if there is any truth in this. Thank you for your help.

Moon-Landing-Hoax_200pxRoom 237 was a 2012 documentary film that features five people, each of whom has a different obsessive interpretation of Kubrick’s 1980 movie The Shining. One believes it was was really about the Holocaust; another believes it was about the plight of native Americans. One of the five was conspiracy theorist Jay Weidner, who believes that Kubrick made the movie to confess that he had faked the moon landing films. There are hardly any bizarre conspiracy theories Weidner has not promoted, including the 2012 apocalypse, the claim that Denver International Airport is a headquarters for the Illuminati, and that the Georgia Guidestones monument is actually some sort of Rosicrucian shrine.

The_Shining_2345798bWeidner’s evidence that The Shining was Kubrick’s moon hoax confession leaves one wanting, to put it mildly. The kid in the film wears a sweater with an Apollo rocket on it… and that’s about all. The other points he raises are wrong; that 237 was chosen because the moon is 237,000 miles away (it’s not), and that a pattern in the hotel’s carpet looks like the Apollo launchpad (it doesn’t remotely). The Shining was based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel; Kubrick didn’t even write it himself. Room 237 is not about The Shining, it’s about five bizarre theories and the people who come up with them. Don’t miss the point and assume that the theories were being seriously presented.

Acupressure Wristbands

Hi Brian, my name is Rachel Bloom. The other day, I was watching ABC’s Shark Tank and a woman came on touting her own brand of anti-nausea acupressure wristbands. She said they were “FDA Approved.” I have a lot of friends who use these wristbands, and, after doing a little bit of internet research, it looks like there have actually been studies where the acupressure wristbands were more effective than placebos in combating motion sickness and/or nausea. So, my question is: what’s the deal with these wristbands? Thanks.

wrist band_200pxYou bring up two points. First, FDA approval. This does not necessarily mean that the FDA has tested the device and found that it works. In this case, the applicants merely have to show that similar devices (which may or may not have been tested) are already for sale. This is all that’s needed for the FDA to grant clearance for a company to market something. In the case of Sea Band, one of the more popular wristbands, such clearance based on the existence of similar products is all they ever received from the FDA. Obviously, Sea Band trumpets the fact as if it constitutes an endorsement, which it’s not.

Second, whether they work. You are correct that tests have shown them to be effective, however all such tests that I was able to find were uncontrolled and unblinded. Randomized controlled trials of the wristbands, however, have had very different results. The Institute of Naval Medicine did such a test in 1990 and found that Sea Bands performed no better than placebo, and both were outperformed by scopolamine. Even in post-surgical nausea, controlled tests have found no improvement through the use of wristbands.

Acupressure Wristband_200pxAn interesting warning sign to be aware of is that research that tends to find a positive result usually has not only poor experimental design, but almost always mentions the “P6 acupressure point” on the wrist. This is a sure sign that the article is written from a pro-acupressure perspective. “P6 acupressure point” is not a medical or scientific term and is only used in the acupressure community.

Although the placebo effect can be very compelling and creates passionate believers, the wrist simply has no connection to your body’s sense of nausea, and no plausible hypothesis has ever been suggested to explain how it might.

Read more student questions answered by Brian Dunning at Skeptoid

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