Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dr. Uba... FAKE

The South African interwebs is up in arms about one  Dr. Uba, who apparently offers cash for body parts. In flyers distributed in Johannesburg and a website, Dr. Uba offers "keen cash" for eyes, penises and kidneys and more.

This, understandably, quickly drew a lot of attention. Twitter exploded with outrage, Reddit got in on the act, the police was apparently sniffing around, and I was notified about the site via email and Facebook by several independent sources. Since human body parts are sometimes used for "muti" (traditional African medicine) and since this kind of quackery flourishes in South Africa, alas, Dr. Uba existing didn't strike me as impossible. But, as I've pointed out before, doubt will set you free. With some ninja internet skills and the help of several friends, I manage to uncover that Dr. Uba is nothing more than a guerrilla marketing campaign for the upcoming South African horror-film "Night Drive" (a trailer is here).

To make a long, convoluted story very short... The first indication that Dr. Uba wasn't real was that the Whois for the site revealed it was registered to one Jonathan Merry (this is he, I think) who works for a design / marketing company. Additionally, if you phoned Dr. Uba's clinic, all you got was voicemail. Much more significantly, the Whois description of the site is "spoof site of fake doctor". That confirmed the site is a fake, but not why it was being faked. Contacting Mr. Merry revealed few additional details (he was constrained by his client, apparently), so the motives for site remained hidden. Then, rather anticlimactically, the site was edited so that clicking on any of the links showed:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Video: Optogenitics is Nature's Method of the Year

Long-time readers will remember a guest post by my friend Hugh Pastoll about optogenetics. I didn't catch it at the time, but Nature declared optogentics its 'Method of the Year' for 2010. An explanatory video below (direct link):

(Video found via Ed Yong).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011