bad science and worse

I’m a big fan of Ben Goldacre’s “bad science” column in the Guardian. He is particularly scathing about quackery and spurious medical science. His views of “Dr” Gillian McKeith in particular are well worth reading.

Whilst I was reading one of his columns recently, I was reminded of another “Dr” who seems to get away with hype and nonsense, one DK Matai “PhD” (though references to actually gaining the PhD are woefully thin these days), chairman of mi2g security. According to the ATCA membership page of the mi2g website:

“ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies — bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 120 countries: including 1,000 Parliamentarians; 1,500 Chairmen and CEOs of corporations; 1,000 Heads of NGOs; 750 Directors at Academic Centres of Excellence; 500 Inventors and Original thinkers; as well as 250 Editors-in-Chief of major media. ”

(I think I’m meant to be impressed. Actually, I’m just baffled.)

Not surprisingly mi2g has recently jumped on the banking bandwagon and reinvented itself yet again, this time as a centre of expertise on the finance sector. Back in November 2002, el Reg posted an article about Matai which still bears reading, as does the earlier July article referring to the vmyths commentary on mi2g.

The really depressing point here is that the briefings all seem to come from members themselves. All that ATCA does is recycle the brief with the caveat: “Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.”

This looks like a wonderfully inventive and highly lucrative variant on the blog theme. According to the ATCA membership pages of the website, I can receive 250 HTML briefings for £2,790.63 (including taxes) “as they are published”. This is the “gold” level of membership. The “bronze” level of membership (for £131.60 (including taxes)) would give me up to 10 HTML briefings “as they are published”. Perhaps readers of this blog would like to pay me similar amounts for something I may, or may not, write in future. I promise that the gold payer will get more than the bronze payer, but that is all.

(Interested readers are invited to do some simple on-line research. Try your favourite search engine with terms such as “hype” “mi2g” “myths” etc.)

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