Yogic Farming: India's cost effective alternative to Wind Turbines?

The Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh (left) presenting the memento to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 86th Foundation Day of ICAR and ICAR award presentation ceremony, in New Delhi. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PM_Modi_at_the_86th_ICAR_Foundation_Day.jpg

The Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh (left) presenting the memento to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 86th Foundation Day of ICAR and ICAR award presentation ceremony, in New Delhi. Author Narendra Modi https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PM_Modi_at_the_86th_ICAR_Foundation_Day.jpg

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

India’s agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh has publicly suggested that Indian farmers should deal with the stress of climate change, and create positive energy to enhance their crop yields, by practicing “yogic farming”.

According to the BBC;

The Indian agriculture minister has said his government is supporting “yogic” farming to “empower seeds with the help of positive thinking”.

Radha Mohan Singh said it would help improve yield and soil fertility and contribute to making India prosperous.

More than 50% of India’s population depends on agriculture for a living.

But farming in India has been going through a crisis in recent years with thousands of farmers killing themselves in despair over poor harvests.

The minister’s comments follow earlier controversial statements – in July, he was criticised for his bizarre comments that farmer suicides were a result of “failed love affairs” and “impotency”.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-34254964

Your first response might be to laugh at the lunacy of this suggestion, and to feel sorry for the desperate farmers who are on the receiving end of this government advice. But when you think about it, many Westerners practice a far more ridiculous form of magical thinking, by subscribing to the view that erecting lots of utterly useless wind turbines, at enormous expense, is a cost effective means of controlling global weather.

At least all that Yoga may actually have some positive health benefits, unlike wind turbines, which have been potentially implicated as the cause of serious health problems. Running a few yoga classes is a lot cheaper than erecting a field full of pointless bird choppers. So in a sense, I can’t help thinking that the Indians might be ahead of us on this issue.

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58 thoughts on “Yogic Farming: India's cost effective alternative to Wind Turbines?

  1. I’m trying to understand the logic in yogic farming.
    Maybe if I stop going “Hmmm…” and start thinking “Oommm…” I might get it.
    Dunno.

    • It isn’t hard to prove for yourself. Go buy a house plant, find out how often it needs to be watered and fed, and be faithful to following those instructions. Then, every time you walk past the plant or tend it, think ugly thoughts. Tell it you hate it and you hope it dies. threaten it if it doesn’t grow. Laugh at what I just said all you want, but the plant will struggle to survive.
      Now do the opposite. Oh you don’t have to deny it water and fertilizer, but just tell it that you love it and think it is God’s gift to you, that you really want it to live, and see what happens. But remember, the key is you have to mean it.
      If you are hand tending your farm and are struggling to survive, I doubt that you are “broadcasting” loving, caring, nurturing thoughts to the plants, and yes, plants ARE sensitive to human presence. Thus the idea of “yogic farming” makes sense since because that is what you would be doing – broadcasting nurturing thoughts. It might well increase productivity.
      And you who are about to attack this comment based on the weeds in your yard, yes, I know, you can hate the little buggers and they keep coming back. Now consider this – if you went out and told them how much you love them, they might just respond to your thoughts and grow even faster. Try that, if you dare, and let me know the consequences because I am not going to. The struggle is hard enough now.

      • Tom,
        Thanks – interesting.
        I’ve read various ‘studies’ – now mostly printed – not plagiarised, as source is given – in the press – about say
        – how the right music improves lactation in milk cows;
        – added CO2 helps plant growth.
        Are you aware of any reasonable studies?
        Auto

      • @ Tom O
        What a strange assertion to find on a science blog.
        You suggest ‘trying it for ourselves’, which at least does count for much in terms of science. I also infer from what you said that you have yourself tried it.
        But did you run a valid test?
        See, I have two cactus pot-plants in my home. One has thrived, and the other is much less healthy. They were bought at the same place at the same time and are kept in the same type of pot. They are watered at the same time, and sit next to each other on the same window-ledge. I have absolutely no preference between the two, yet one is much better off than the other. If I had decided to ‘love’ one, and hate the other, there’s a fifty-fifty chance I would have wrongly concluded that I had evidence that being loved makes cactus thrive.
        Actually, there’s a better than fifty-fifty chance. I might instead notice that the one that hasn’t done so well still flowers earlier than the abundant one, and if it had been the one I’d chosen to love, I might have concluded that love was causing that early flowering, despite the fact that in reality it is random chance or genetics responsible for the differences my plants have.
        In addition, the ones we ‘love’ might well receive more CO2 from us, and more attention to the dryness of the soil they are in, than the one we ‘hate’. And again, the result would be a difference attributed to ‘love’ that was actually completely due to natural causes.
        So to properly test, ideally we should have a large number of genetically identical plants in identical soil, mechanically watered equally, with equal access to sunlight. They should each be spoken to the same amount of times for the same period of time. What counts as a successful test should be established ahead of time- I suggest “The total weight of the ‘loved’ group should be more than two standard deviations from the mean larger than the total weight of the ‘hated’ group.”
        To make it a fair test, we should have a different person doing the loving than the person judging the result, and the judge should not know ahead of time which were loved. The pots for the loved plants should have a sticky label on the bottom saying ‘loved’ and the hated an identical one saying ‘hated’ before the plants are put in them, to avoid the temptation of choosing to ‘love’ the thriving ones. Ideally, the plants should be planted by a third party, to avoid putting the temptation to put healthier looking plants in the ‘loved’ containers. Distribution of both pots and plants should be random.
        Only then can we say we KNOW there’s an actual effect from loving plants, rather than just having happened to encounter an interesting coincidence that just stuck in our minds.
        If anyone would like to conduct that test, and report back, I’d love to hear from them. Even if the results are as negative as I actually expect them to be. negative results are important too.

  2. “… farmer suicides were a result of “failed love affairs” and “impotency”.”
    Perhaps Pachauri’s sex novels would help?

    • @John: I suggest going “Hoooo … ” over the crop. Then it will benefit from the exhaled CO2.
      I recall lil’ ol’ ladies telling me their plants grew better because they talked to them. Now I know why.
      @Tony: More likely that Pachie’s stuff would cause the problems rather than cure them.

    • Many of the suicides were farmers who went into too much debt to buy GMO seeds from the likes of Monsanto, believing the ads about high yields. When the payoff didn’t come, the bankruptcy did… then the suicide. .. Man made disaster, yes. Global warming, no. DEBT can be lethal, warmth not so much…

      • @ E.M. Smith, I suggest you investigate the reliability of the source that told you that story.
        I find this account to be completely plausible. http://issues.org/30-2/keith/
        Note that in fact production was actually increased. Note that the farmers have overwhelmingly adopted it. “It is hard to imagine farmers spreading a technology that is literally killing them.”
        There are suicides, and many of them, and they are a tragedy. But it is not the fictitious crop failure, but Indian banking practices, especially after the bank reforms of the 1990’s that are wrongly blamed by soi-disant environmentalists, who are wilfully blind to the environmental improvements achieved by GM cotton.

  3. Just develop water supply system to nooks and corners to restore regular rain cycle and Good irrigation will solve the problem. we are draining water to the sea. Bring water back to the places where they belong to, Mountains, poles as snow and to on and in land for details on devbahadurdongol.blogspot.com

  4. “Westerners practice a far more ridiculous form of magical thinking”
    …………………………………………………
    Indeed.

    • When I was a kid, I laughed at the witch doctors and natives in Tarzan movies. Today, I see that we are just like them.

  5. Since there is no warming, there is no way that yogic farming will hurt anything other than make the farmers feel like they are doing something positive. Sort of a placebo effect for people who think they need to do something about something that is not happening. Makes sense to me.

    • @ higley7
      I am vastly sceptical of thermogeddon.
      I judge the TCS the alarmists use is vastly exaggerated because they fail to take into account many of the world’s natural negative feedbacks. I further think there have been cooling effects from Milankovitch cycles and Solar quietude. Likewise I am of the opinion that their calculated TCS was exaggerated by being fitted to records that included periodic warming from AMO and PDO. I am of the opinion that there are other relevant natural processes that have been given insufficient weight, and led to their excessively high TCS figure.
      So my sceptic credentials as a Lukewarmer are in fine condition. I’m of the opinion that Global Warming is a thing, but its not at all a big thing. But to suggest that there’s been NO warming astonishes me. What data set are you using?

  6. Yes, and if you want to sell your property fast, bury a St. Joseph statue upside-down in your front yard.
    Different cultures, different superstitions.

  7. Let’s not be so cynical about wind turbines Mr. Worrall. Maybe we could have Yogic wind turbines. Or, perhaps we could teach wind turbines Yoga. Where there’s positive thoughts producing positive energy vibes there’s always … oh, skip it.

      • OSD
        Lots more smaller blades.
        Reduces the nameplate capacity, which reduces the warm, turning reserve needed.
        See – Oooooommmmm really does help keep the lights on.
        Note to HM Government, London. Cut back the wind; lights stay on.
        QED
        Auto – just a bit /sarc. A little bit . . .

  8. China might prefer some Yogic alternative:
    16 Sept: RTCC: Ed King: China economic downturn could hit 2030 clean energy target
    Investors call on government to support renewables sector, which faces cash crisis as stock market woes intensify
    China’s slowing economy spells bad news for a goal to deliver 20% of its energy from fossil free sources by 2030, according to one of the country’s leading experts…
    Fei Teng, an associate professor with the Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy at the influential Tsinghua University said the economic slump was hurting renewables developers.
    “Most of their money comes from the stock market, so when it has problems generally they lose a very important financial channel and that’s what we have seen,” he told RTCC… http://www.rtcc.org/2015/09/16/china-economic-downturn-could-hit-2030-clean-energy-target/
    EU too.
    links to CAN-Europe report & Politico’s “leaked documents”:
    15 Sept: RTCC: Alex Pashley: EU policy ‘blind spots’ to hit credibility in Paris
    Brussels has yet to account for ‘staggering’ 6 billion tonnes of carbon cuts in post-2020 target, CAN-Europe warns
    As environment ministers meet to finalise its negotiating strategy this Friday, the 28-member bloc must give clarity on how it will meet its commitments, Climate Action Network Europe urged on Tuesday.
    The world’s third-largest emitting bloc could cut emissions by a mere 25% over the period 2021-30 compared with 1990 levels in a “worst case scenario,” the coalition of NGOs said in a report. (LINK)…
    CAN-Europe has identified a gap of 6 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent hinged on pending decisions relating to its emission trading scheme and policies on forestry. That could see its output vary from 37-43 billion tonnes over 2021-30…
    According to leaked documents reported by Politico, there is resistance from some members to boost the level of ambition (LINK)…
    http://www.rtcc.org/2015/09/15/eu-policy-blind-spots-to-hit-credibility-in-paris/

    • Pat – China’s slowing economy spells bad news for a goal to deliver 20% of its energy from fossil free sources by 2030
      How hard will China have to go to get to the vaunted 20% non-fossil fuel share.
      China has already built the world’s biggest hydropower facility at the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River, with 22.5 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. The third biggest, the Xiluodu project in Sichuan province, will be completed this year.
      China said in its five-year plan for 2011-2015 that it would raise total capacity from 220 GW to 290 GW. Capacity had already reached 280 GW by the end of last year, up 12.3 percent from 2012, according to official data.
      “Looking at the major projects in the pipeline including those on the Yarlong, Dadu and Jinsha (rivers), which could complete construction by 2015, China would meet and exceed its target … by as much as 5-10 GW,” said Grace Mang, China Program Director with advocacy group International Rivers.
      Hydro accounted for about 22 percent of China’s total power capacity by the end of last year, with thermal power reaching 862 GW or nearly 70 percent.

      http://cleantechnica.com/2015/03/11/non-fossil-fuel-sources-provide-25-chinas-electricity/
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/10/china-parliament-hydropower-idUSL3N0M70VN20140310
      They are already 2 percent over now.

  9. Tens of thousands of years from now, when some alien race is studying the history of our little planet, I can not help but think they will believe that the inhabitants of this world were not very advanced. Because after having been to our moon, launched satellites that have explored our solar system, we still have people that believe that failed crops are from a lack of positive thinking. Not much removed from blood letting or dousing yourself in urine to cure plague.

    • Lets not be too hasty. Not everything is that simple.
      For example, I used to laugh at the thought that people could actually believe talking to your plants help them grow. Then my wife pointed out, people who spend long hours talking to the plants in their tiny household greenhouse probably do help them grow – they fill the greenhouse with CO2, half a litre of air enriched with up to 50,000 ppm CO2 with every breath.
      Similarly, with regard to the Indian Agriculture Minister’s claim, convincing miserable depressed people to relieve their stress by practicing yoga might actually help improve farm yields by some small metric – not because of a “mystical positive energy”, but because people who feel happy and optimistic probably take better care of their farms.

      • I think a more important fact is that people who talk to their plants also spend time caring for them in other ways, and spending time around their plants makes them more attuned and observant to any changes that could spell trouble.
        As far as positive thinking, that would solve the suicide issue, and keeping up hope and morale is an important part of productivity. It’s not the best option, but it’s not the worst, and many times it’s all you have.

    • Jack
      In my response to OSD, 1-05 pm, above, I carefully omitted any reference to Beanz Meanz Heinz – let alone Beanz Meanz Fartz!
      Just FYI!
      Auto

  10. I would certainly support the idea of Yogic agriculture. Even if it involved daily drinking one’s urine, it would be less damaging to one’s health than wind turbines, which are implicated as ta cause of serious health problems.

  11. let’s not mock the Indians:
    15 Sept: e360 Yale Forum: What Pope Francis Should Say In His Upcoming UN Address
    In a Yale Environment 360 forum, seven leading thinkers on the environment and religion describe what they would like to hear the pope say…
    Bill McKibben
    I think the pope has already done more than anyone could possibly ask: beautifully framed climate change for what it is, which is less an ‘environmental issue’ than an existential problem requiring a new/old way of looking at the planet. In concrete terms, the Roman Catholic Church does have large financial assets, which it uses to underwrite its many missions. It would be sweet if the pope said they were being divested from the fossil fuel industry, but really that work is up to the rest of us — in parishes, at Catholic colleges and universities, and so on…
    Katharine Hayhoe
    There’s just one thing he hasn’t said — yet. He hasn’t called out those who are using God’s name as a cover for greedy, short-term thinking, for actions and attitudes that reflect love of self more than love of others…
    Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a lead author of reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    The pope rejects the use of carbon credits, because they “could give rise to a new form of speculation” and would “support the super-consumption of certain countries and sectors.” This rhetoric is straight from the playbook of the ALBA nations, the small set of socialist Latin American countries that are fearful of free markets and uncooperative in climate negotiations.
    If the pope intended to refer only to offset systems and not cap-and-trade, the rhetoric might be less objectionable, but no distinction is made.
    Robert Engelman is a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, where he directs a project assessing research on family planning, population, and environmental sustainability.
    Considering humanity’s long future on earth, the most environmentally beneficial statement Francis could make would be to reverse the Catholic Church’s ban on effective modern contraception.
    ETC ETC
    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/what_pope_francis_should_say_in_his_upcoming_un_address/2910/

  12. bring on the Yogic farming:
    VIDEO: 16 Sept: UK Mirror: by Emily: Sir David Attenborough wants £10bn spent on clean energy to prevent climate change disaster
    “The Earth is now in danger,” warns the veteran broadcaster as he joins business leaders, scientists and politicians to urge new research programme
    He is one of 27 top scientists, business executives, politicians and academics who have called on nations to adopt the Global Apollo Programme.
    The scheme comes amid growing concern over climate change and, like John F Kennedy’s pledge to put a man on the moon within a decade, is inspired by a clear goal.
    It wants to make electricity from solar and wind sources cheaper than fuel from coal in every country within 10 years and find better ways to store and carry it.
    Sir David, 89, and leading figures such as Unilever chief executive Paul Polman have signed an open letter calling for action ahead of climate talks in Paris in December…
    The letter calls on governments to spend £10billion a year on clean energy development – arguing it will save them huge sums and bring down bills for billions of consumers.
    Key areas include ways of storing electricity, smart grids which balance supply and demand and solar and wind technology.
    Physicist Brian Cox , Former energy secretary Ed Davey, former cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell and Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees also signed the letter…
    Caption: Support: Prof Brian Cox also signed the letter
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/science/sir-david-attenborough-wants-10bn-6456009

    • pat
      “The letter calls on governments to spend £10billion a year on clean energy development – arguing it will save them huge sums and bring down bills for billions of consumers.”
      Oh no you don’t!
      Bills for consumers must go up.
      The sainted and Nobbled Obama tells us so – so it M U S T be right. No??
      No objection to spending money on energy research – including renewables.
      Some will come from governments – but private pennies count – probably double.
      Spending my money is done carefully.
      Spending other peoples’ money need not be so parsimoniously practised.
      Auto Absolutely not /Sarc.

  13. I don’t suppose Radha Mohan Singh knows that the whole catastrophic warming thing is a bunch of hooey but he can’t say so because — well, because nobody can say so and stay employed, especially in the government. So instead he’s instituting a perfectly useless technique which, when crop yields increase due to slightly longer growing seasons and increased CO2, he can then claim worked.

  14. More than 50% of India’s population depends on agriculture for a living.

    Now, that’s unsustainable. With modern agricultural methods several percent of the population is able to feed the rest and make a decent living on it. Not more than that.
    That means a radical change of lifestyle for hundreds of millions. They should abandon their traditional way of life and communities, move to cities perhaps, learn new skills and do something entirely different.
    That’s how painful the transition from a traditional society to a free industrial or post-industrial one is. All western economies went through it a long time ago.
    Even those staying in agribusiness can’t go on in the traditional way. They need a whole bunch of new skills from accounting, handling finance, investment, credit, marketing, etc. That is, they should become full fledged entrepreneurs instead of being peasants.
    That can bring about lots of stress, no doubt about it. And to relieve that stress, even yoga can help in a small way.

  15. This idea is no more ridiculous than the Press Release issued by the Global Apollo Program yesterday
    “We the undersigned believe that global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt.
    A sensible approach to tackling climate change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world.
    The aspiration of the Global Apollo Program is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within 10 years. We urge the leading nations of the world to commit to this positive, practical initiative by the Paris climate conference in December”
    Sounds amazing but then comes the kicker
    “The plan requires leading governments to invest a total of $15 billion a year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy.”
    150 billion is apparently not a significant economic cost and this just for the demonstration phase.

  16. It almost as potty as Rudolph Steiner’s biological dynamic agriculture. An important part of that is that in order to fertilise your plot you have to take a few cow horns, fill them with manure and bury them at strategic positions at full moon.
    Some mothers have them.

  17. @Berényi Péter
    …Now, that’s unsustainable. With modern agricultural methods several percent of the population is able to feed the rest and make a decent living on it. Not more than that.
    That means a radical change of lifestyle for hundreds of millions. They should abandon their traditional way of life and communities, move to cities perhaps, learn new skills and do something entirely different….

    Of course, we know exactly how that works, since the British blazed the way with their Agricultural Revolution in the 1700s. It involves deserted villages and packed slums in towns…

    • I think you may have cause and effect the wrong way around. Higher paying jobs in the cities drew the workforce away from the countryside, so mechanisation was necessary for those remaining to meet demand.

    • India does not have to replicate the British experience in every small &. horrible detail.
      Life expectancy at birth in 18th century England was 40 years, rate of literacy among males was 60%, among females 35%. The same figures for present day india are 66 years / 82% / 65%. There is still room for improvement, but India is clearly in a much better position to deal with it, than England was two and a half centuries ago.

  18. One of the earliest studies into the effects of Enso on the monsoon was carried out by a British bureaucrat in the days of the Raj. By studying the price of grain he recognised the climate cycle and it’s effect on crop production. Perhaps the Indian agriculture minister would do well to check it out before he makes any more suggestions.

  19. It is often that faith wins over fatalism. I’d be willing to give yogic a try. The main problem with eco-facsism is it’s rejection of a higher power. They rely exclusively on the power of money.

  20. Hmmmn….
    http://environment.brahmakumaris.org/component/content/category/40-yogic-agriculture
    At first glance ludicrous but if you strip away the jargon and mumbo jumbo there are probably some sound agricultural and management principles hidden in there.
    A bit like biodynamics, an agricultural system invented by Rudolf Steiner, a man who knew nothing about agriculture. Many of its practices are little different to witchcraft but its adherents generally care about what they are doing so they get the results that they want. Not more productive than regular agriculture but more sustainable [that word] in the long term. Or so they say.
    Certainly the difference is not in the taste,,
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01094025#page-2

  21. This is two in a row. I have read two articles on the blog today and all there are for comments are ridicule. I am sure there are a sprinkling or meaningful, thoughtful, and even on topic comments scattered in through, but it appears the troll’s new way of attacking the forum is just to pump it full of ridicule and effectively prove that the followers of the blog are ignoramuses, thus the blog itself must be as well. Keep it up, you are doing a good job. Of course, this isn’t the first, nor the last blog that gets this treatment. I used to enjoy reading the comments to articles here because they were so on topic and educational. Now I find that after reading the articles, the best thing to do is just move on since the commenting is no longer worth the time it takes to read. Serious climate discussion isn’t the only topic that is flooded with ridicule, however, as any of the “hot topic” political features are the same. I guess the MSM has found its way to “fight back” against the internet information sources.

  22. One of the best market gardeners in the UK, who is the author of several books on the subject and whose garden is the best I’ve ever seen, says that positive thinking is one part of his armoury, along with lunar gardening, biodynamic gardening and general good soil husbandry.
    The assumption would have to be that plants are sensitive to EM waves sent from the brain and that saves from positive thoughts stimulate plants and waves from negative ones stunt them.
    Interesting grant proposal that would make, not the least of which would be how to measure the EM waves emerging from your brain and how you could switch on positive and negative thoughts for each group of seeds……..

  23. Well, I see this as a perfectly reasonable defense against the corporate juggernaut. Remember the suicides -noted in the article above- were driven by the push to use GM seeds requiring additional fertilizer and water to produce the claimed yield, and then only if planted densely.
    This scam was revealed when Indian scientists showed traditional methods allowing space for the growing plant roots was superior. Yet the same scam is being promoted in the south of India again using poor farmers.
    It seems the corporate motto is “If at once you don’t succeed, try try again!”

    • @ katesisco
      Please see my reply to E.M. Smith above.
      For what seems to me to be good reasons, I’m highly sceptical of the anti-Monsanto account. There is more to the story than in the brief article i quote above. There are relative differences in poverty between city and country, which have been magnified by India’s industrialisation and urbanisation, and restrictive and irrational government regulation impacting the farmers as well. I found the accounts to match the productivity data, and the sociological information I have, with no blame to Monsanto nor Bt cotton.
      This source, http://www.vib.be/en/about-vib/plant-biotech-news/Documents/BackgroundReport_BT_Cotton.pdf from the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology, surely should have reported such a finding if it existed, but instead it is strongly contradictory of that.
      I admit I am highly sceptical of environmentalist reports. I have been since I traced the facts in one of the most bizarre cases of ‘Telegraph’ I’ve ever seen. Environmentalist organisations including Greenpeace called for the ‘US to join other nations in banning GM crops because of their health hazards’. It turned out the cited nations had not banned it. No animals were poisoned. The fact at base was an illiterate Indian pig farmer had insisted that his ill pigs be treated for poisoning after eating Bt crop stubble, rather than for the indigenous disease the vet diagnosed. She treated them for poisoning, and they died from the disease. A tragedy, but surreally absurd to call for banning GM crops on those facts!
      That’s not the only instance, of course. I’ve checked over fifty reports from our Green-leaning local paper, and found every case i checked was misreported, most commonly by leaving out the ‘on the other hand’ data.
      I hadn’t heard of the experiment you mention, I’d be grateful for a link to a source. I have tried Googling for the source, but failed to find it.
      But you can appreciate why I’m sceptical it will hold up.

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