Archive for the Anything else Category

Aid Station Acupuncture… Revisited

Posted in Anything else, Military, skepticism with tags , , , , , , on November 12, 2009 by 556caliberatheist

Recently one of my Soldiers went to the Aid Station to help him alleviate his lower back pain. He’s had lower back pain for the past few months. He’s seen several doctors and physical therapists, been on plenty of medications: Nothing.

One of our Medical Officers offered to treat his back pain with acupuncture. I did not express much skepticism for a few reasons. 1) He is an Officer, I am lower enlisted and 2) I was afraid that any doubt on my behalf may negate any positive effect from the treatment, placebo or otherwise.

So here they are, fresh off my camera:


Beginning of the treatment. The pain was on either side of the spine in the lower back.


Inserting more needles.


The needles were proper sterile acupuncture needles and inserted about 5/8ths to 3/4ths of an inch into the affected muscles.


The provider had a small electrical device to stimulate the acupuncture needles electrically. The device had several knobs and switches to adjust the current which I believe pulsed.


Applying the eletrical stimulation to the needles.


Adjusting the current to the needles. When a current was applied through the needles the muscles with the needles spasmed.

The treatment only took about 3-5 minutes to apply and the patient was instructed to lay and relax for about 20 minutes while the electrical device applied current to the needles.The provider and I kicked back and talked about acupuncture and the theory on it’s mechanisms and medicinal properties. Like I said, I did a good job of hiding my skepticism. I managed to squeeze out little nuggets of information from the provider. He mentioned several times that he himself was not sure how it worked. He also mentioned that he was quiet skeptical about acupuncture until he took classes on Reflexology (!).

I don’t know what to make of it but again, I see very little harm. Hopefully, even if it is placebo, this procedure can help this Soldier with his pain.

Happy Armistice Day everyone!


IED’s – Improvised Evangelical Devices

Posted in Anything else, atheism, Military, Political with tags , , , , , , on October 16, 2009 by 556caliberatheist
Improvised Evangelical Device

Improvised Evangelical Device

Bold new threat to the Solder’s, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed in support of OIF/OEF: IED’s. Improvised Evangelical Devices.

Yes, these are against regs. No, nothing was done about this or the several other identical flyers posted around our FOB.

Are we now trying to piss off the Islamic nutters?

SPC Brickey, Paul 68W Combat Medic

Dowsing… Does Divination Have A Military Application?

Posted in Anything else, Military, skepticism on October 2, 2009 by 556caliberatheist

Dowsing, in case you don’t know, is an age old method of finding hidden things. What things? Well, Dowsers have claimed that dowsing can “find” everything form diamonds to disease. Big money is paid to folks to dowse for oil and water resources.

Dowsing... as old and them thar hills.

Dowsing... as old and them thar hills.

Could this phenomenon have military applications? Could dowsing be used in warfare?

Well it has actually. In the Vietnam War a man named Louis Matacia taught dowsing techniques to the US Marines to find tunnels, mines, booby traps, or wires in the jungle thick of ‘Nam. Video exists of Marines dowsing and Mr. Matacia training Marines how to use dowsing equipment and it pretty interesting to watch.

You can take his “Master Dowser Exam” at

Dowsing equipment, contrary to every other piece of equipment that the military uses, is rather cheap and lightweight and can be easily improvised. I’d like to see our ballistic body armor manufacturers claim that. The equipment can be as simple as a bent stick and a pendulum. You can go ahead and drop a few bucks on some simple dowsing supplies; 8.00$ will get you the “Ball” pendulum which, as I read is “The perfect pendulum for beginners. Its round shape makes it extremely easy to move and to allow a not very experienced dowser to work with it successfully in asking life questions, in the decision-making process etc.” Or you can upgrade to the “Gold Hue” pendulum which it is claimed, “Golden Hue pendulumis one of the most advanced pendulums with therapeutic abilities … It can be successfully used for basic work such as: asking questions, searching better solutions, checking food, cosmetics etc. for allergy, checking compatibility between people and much more. Self-clearing.” The Golden Hue, in case you are wondering, retails for 80.00$. I guess it must be 10 times better than that “Ball” pendulum. Check it out at and pick up an Atlantis Ring while you’re at it.

Dowsing has been used in warfare in the past

Dowsing has been used in warfare in the past

But every empirical and scientific test has shown dowsing to be, unlike our bullets or SAPI plates, ineffective and unable to perform with an above random chance rate of success.

Master Debunker, Former Illusionist and one of my personal heroes, James “The Amazing” Randi, has had a standing offer of 1 Million dollars for proof of any supernatural claim for many years now. Dowsing is actually the most frequently tested claim and no one yet has been able to demonstrate that something other than chance, guess work, and the idomotor effect.

So… going against the scientific consensus I decided to perform a little dowsing test of my own in our old motor pool at FOB Hammer, near the Iranian border.

I used a simple coat hanger which I melted and bent to look more or less like the dowsing “Y sticks” that I commonly see used. If I can find a source of underground water or UXO (Unexploded Ordaniance) out here then dowsing, to me at least, would have some military merit as a tool for finding IED’s in Iraq.

Funny thing is, as I was doing this several of the guys in my platoon knew exactly what I was doing and gave me such sage advice as “You’ll feel a tug” and “If you get a signal becareful where you dig”. Not bad advice, this was an old Iraqi Army mortor range and if the technique worked I could face serious injury.

I was pretty confident that I would come out unscathed.

Attempting to summon the spirits to assist me in locating resources.

Attempting to summon the spirits to assist me in locating resources.

Oh... hold the phones... Its looks like we have a little something!

Oh... hold the phones... It's looks like we have a little something!

Looks like we have something!!

Looks like we have something!!

Well... looks like we found a vien of softcore pornography DVDs. If ever there was a useful resource for deployed troops this was it. Obviously dowsing works!

Well... looks like we found a vien of softcore pornography DVDs. If ever there was a useful resource for deployed troops this was it. Obviously dowsing works!

All kidding aside, the bottom line is that dowsing or divination has not stood up to any rigorous scientific tests despite test after test and claimant after claimant shot down in a puff of Atlantis Energy. As such, it has no place being used by front line troops.

SPC Paul K. Brickey

68W Combat Medic