Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Update of plans, both blogs will be kept active

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 29, 2010

I had previously decided to devote myself to the Vaccine Central, FULL TIME, but then a story like this comes along. Every time I try to leave, some idiot comes along to pull me back in!

Indian doctors are studying a remarkable 83-year-old holy man who claims to have spent the last seven decades without food and water.

Ok, answer me this: if he has spent the last 70 years without food and water, how come he’s so full of shit?

Military medics hope the experiments on Prahlad Jani can help soldiers develop their survival strategies.

They need to be fired for extreme gullibility syndrome.

“The observation from this study may throw light on human survival without food and water,” said Dr G. Ilavazahagan, who is directing the research.

“This may help in working out strategies for survival during natural calamities, extreme stressful conditions and extra-terrestrial explorations like future missions to the Moon and Mars by the human race.”

Isn’t that great; the doctor directing the research already has made up his mind that this phenomenon, which goes against EVERYTHING, that medical science teaches, is happening. He’s already in the “how does it happen” phase! Pure science, I tell you!

“The exercise of taking this yogi under the medical scanner is to understand what energy supports his existence,” Dr Ilavazahagan added.

“Jani says he meditates to get energy. Our soldiers will not be able to meditate, but we would still like to find out more about the man and his body.”

I don’t know how much money these “researchers” are spending in this so-called “experiment” but I have a better suggestion. For a few thousand dollars, put him on a plane to Florida where he can take the Million Dollar Challenge, win the $1M and use that money to study him and others like him. How’s that sound?

“The observation from this study may throw light on human survival without food and water,” said Dr G. Ilavazahagan, who is directing the research.

“This may help in working out strategies for survival during natural calamities, extreme stressful conditions and extra-terrestrial explorations like future missions to the Moon and Mars by the human race.”

Introducing the Vaccine Central

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 28, 2010

Skepdude has decided to specialize! During a recent Twitter debate with various skeptics about the scope of skepticism, many mentioned that, while the scope can be very broad, it is best for people to specialize in a specific area or domain. I agree. That is why I decided to create a new blog, called Vaccine Central, which will be my focus from this point on. I decided that the best way for me to help folks, is to focus my time and energy on the vaccine issue. If you read the About page you’ll see why I decided to concentrate on this issue specifically. Many blogs and bloggers handle vaccine issues at all times, more notably Orac and SBM, but still finding the information one is looking for can be very arduous. My mission is to set up a blog that makes it as easy as possible, through clever use of categories, subcategories and tags, for parents to find the information they are looking for quickly. Thus, enter Vaccine Central, the new home of Skepdude. Skepfeeds will eventually be shut down, or just left inactive for I don’t want to give up the blog name just yet. You want it? Make me an offer!

No fear though, I intend to stay immersed in all things skeptical, and I intend to make Twitter my venue for all things of interest to my skeptical mind. So keep following me at twitter.com/Skepdude or search for @Skepdude, and also do go over to the new blog and subscribe to the RSS feed. However, Vaccine Central is my new home; that’s where you’ll find me on a day-to-day basis, sifting through the web finding all the good information I can find on any and all vaccine related questions/claims and presenting it in a concise, easy to digest manner to the reader. The entries will be coming out much slower than they used to at Skepfeeds, except for the News category which I suspect will be the most frequently updated one. The goal of quality of the information demands that time be taken to ensure no nonsense makes its way to the blog. However, eventually as the number of entries builds up, so will the value of the blog.

I am still debating the category structure. Once I have a clear layout of the main categories and subcategories it will be posted at Vaccine Central for people to comment. Your input will be crucial, to ensure that information becomes very easy to find and access. A good category/subcategory structure is essential; your help will be much appreciated.

Come along and support me in my quest; it’s not gonna be an easy one, but it could very well turn out to be a very important one.

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Protect Tomorrow

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 27, 2010

The American Academy of Pedicatrics has set up a new website to urge people to remember that the almost eradicated diseases we vaccinate against were serious life taking illnesses in the not too distant past. Please watch the videos and support my #educatejenny campaign. Thank you.

Seasonal flu shots have caused adverse reactions in 251 children under five in Western Australia, the state’s chief health officer says.

Posted in Skepdude, The Sceptics book of pooh pooh by Skepdude on April 27, 2010

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT THE SKEPTIC’S BOOK OF POOH-POOH

In Western Australia, 55 children suffered convulsions after having the vaccination, and almost 200 others suffered fevers and vomiting, chief health officer Dr Tarun Weeramanthri said.

The vaccination programme was suspended last week when adverse reactions began to appear.

Health authorities are undertaking urgent tests in an effort to understand why the reactions took place. Most of the adverse reactions took place in WA, but reports are now trickling in from SA, QLD and NSW.

In NSW, one child with a fever and rash and one child with a febrile convulsion have been reported to NSW Health. Both children have now fully recovered.

Earlier this month, a child aged 2 from Queensland died 12 hrs after receiving a seasonal flu vaccination, but it is not yet known if the vaccine was implicated. The coroner is investigating.

State authorities are currently working together to compile the spread of the reactions to better characterise the problem.

The Commonwealth’s chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop told ABC radio;

“We’ve got to keep this in perspective. We’re looking at an increase in fever causing convulsions in a state and we’ve got to work out if that’s above the baseline.”

Initial speculation was the vaccines may have been a bad batch but this has since been ruled this out, since multiple batches were used. CSL, the manufacturers of Fluvax, said three rival vaccines are available nationwide and that investigators have yet to discover which vaccine was given to the affected children.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT THE SKEPTIC’S BOOK OF POOH-POOH

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Welcome Skepticator

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 26, 2010

Let us all welcome a new addition to the skeptical blog family….kinda. Called The Skepticator this is a feed aggregator which gathers entries from all kinds of skeptical blogs into one feed for people to peruse, kinda like Skepfeeds just much bigger and automated. Of course here at Skepfeeds the selection of entries from other blogs we link to is done by a human ( Holy Me!) and is not automated, so the selections is much bigger at The Skepticator. You can subscribe to it’s feed into your favorite RSS reader and voila, you’ve got all the skeptical entries of the day into one feed. Neat, although it needs a bit more work, hopefully future versions will fix some bugs. BTW, Skepfeeds was just added too, waiting for it to pick up my entries. Welcome Skepticator!

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“EducateJenny” Twitter Initiative update

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 25, 2010

The Initiative is plowing along and picking up speed. Thanks to a RT by Simon Singh, at @SNSingh, many people have gotten involved. Now, as usually happens, as more people join in there is the risk for the tone and direction of the Initiative to be adversely affected. As such, I would like to take this chance to make some suggestions to anyone who wants to chip in.

  1. The goal of the initiative is to scour the web for stories of people being hurt due to antivaxx/lack of vaccination and send a tweet to @jennyfrommtv to point the story out and ask her to change her stance on vaccines. POLITELY! The point is not to rehash all the counterarguments to the anti-vaccine crowd; that’s been done perfectly well on major skeptical blogs. The idea is to counter emotions with emotions. Logic rarely can tame feelings; only other feelings can. Hopefully, if we point out enough stories of people being hurt from lack of vaccinations, Jenny will change her stance on the issue.  Why do I care to change Jenny’s mind? Because I believe she cares just as much as we do, but I also believe that she is misinformed or her strong emotions do not allow the facts to get through. Also, she has the ear of hundreds of thousands of people; she does have the power to influence countless others and to hurt or help many, due to that popularity (over 126,000 followers on Twitter at last count, to contrast Phil Plaitt has 38,000). She can be quite an ally in helping eradicate some horrible childhood diseases and reducing the negative effect that the movement she supports unfortunately has on people’s well-being.
  2. If someone joins in, form the other side, regurgitating the old and tired arguments though, do feel free to point out the existing counterarguments, preferably from sources that link to the original data source. But after linking to the response try not to get drawn into long, pointless Twitter fights. Again the point of this campaign is to point out the human suffering that is resulting, not to get into arguments with the antivaxxers.
  3. Do provide links to as many well done studies about vaccines and their safety as you possibly can; if the full study is available link to that, if not the abstract will have to do.
  4. Please ask your followers to join the initiative and let us make #educatejenny a big trend in Twitter. Who knows we might even succeed!!!
  5. Contact the big names in skepticism that you know off on Twitter and ask them to support the Initiative. We need them to throw numbers our way. The easiest way is to send them a Tweet asking them to support our campaign.
  6. And lastly remember: keep it civil and polite. Most people on the other side care just as much; most don’t do it out of a desire to hurt people. In their mind they are helping; we just need to show them that their efforts are having unfortunate effects. We just need to point them in the right direction; they will have to make the “conversion” themselves.

My “#educateJenny” Twitter experiment

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 24, 2010

I am announcing a new project, my Educate Jenny project on twitter. If you are on Twitter please follow/use the following hash tag #educatejenny. The idea is to gather stories of people being hurt or dying due to antivaccination/lack of vaccination, send her the link via Twitter and ask her to kindly change her stance on vaccines. Here is the latest tweet I send her. Please RT and use it as a template to send other information her way.

@jennyfrommtv : Please be aware of pertussis caused deaths & change your stance on vaccines.http://tinyurl.com/25e8cj4 #educatejenny

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Northern Ireland adopts new guidance on homeopathy

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 23, 2010

And it is not good news for the homeopaths. Following on the footsepts of the UK House of Commons Science committee report, the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland also advised caution on the part of consumers when it comes to homeopathic magic pills.

The draft guidance from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland proposes that patients buying homeopathic products be “appropriately advised that there is no scientific or clinical evidence base for the efficacy of homeopathic products, beyond a placebo effect”.

It adds that signs should be positioned close to the products, recommending patients seek further advice from the pharmacist before purchase.

Commenting on the draft guidance, Brendan Kerr from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, said homeopathy was not a risk free form of alternative health treatment.

“There are real dangers that a patient using homeopathic products may be failing to seek appropriate diagnosis of a more serious underlying condition,” he said.

“Therefore, in our role of protecting patient safety in pharmacy, it is appropriate and necessary that formal professional guidance be issued to pharmacists on this matter.”

Yes, big signs in big, red, all capital letters, with a picture of a crossed skull and the word “WARNING” on top! That ought to do it I think.

Trepanation: A most extreme form of quackery

Posted in Depleted Cranium by Skepdude on April 23, 2010

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT DEPLETED CRANIUM

If there’s anything that can be said in favor of this idiotic procedure, it’s that at least it usually tends to be self-inflicted by those who actively seek it and is not normally something that quacks convince people, who would otherwise not do such an act, to do.   However, this is not always the case.   In 2000, at least two men were arrested in Utah for practicing medicine without a license after preforming trepanations on several individuals. The practitioners claimed that they could provide relief for a variety of conditions ranging from depression to addictions.  There is, of course, no scientific evidence of this being the case.

Warning: The following video contains some slightly graphic scenes of an actual medical trepanation. It’s only brief and relatively clinical, but if you’re really squeamish you may not want to watch. However, the second of the two videos is not graphic at all.

There are a number of individuals and organizations that push the procedure and advocate the benefits of trepanation.  One of the most vocal is Bart Hughes, who, despite often being called one, is not a doctor at all.   As recently as this year, Hughes has been publishing various articles and press releases claiming that the procedure has numerous benefits and can enhance human consciousness.  There is even an international trepanation advocacy group.

It is true that trepanation has a long history in both Western culture and other places in the world.  That said, “Well doctors in the middle ages did it,” is generally not recognized as a means of validating as good medicine.   Whether or not it ever had any therapeutic value is, at best, questionable, although few medical procedures of centuries past did.   Skulls with apparently intentionally created holes have been found in Asia, Europe and the Americas.   A few show signs of healing, indicating that not only was the hole created on purpose, but that the individual survived the procedure.

It is a fallacy to presume that there must be some special significance to a custom that was independently developed in multiple cultures.   In the case of trepanation there are examples of the practice from around the world, and some have used this as evidence that various societies must have discovered the effectiveness of the procedure.  There is, however, a simpler explanation.   Headaches are a common complaint in humans and have a number of causes.   They can range from irritating to nearly debilitating.  An individual suffering from persistent or severe headaches may feel as if there is pressure inside their head that must be relieved or that there was some need to release bad energy or spirits from their head.  Lacking an understanding of medicine and the human body, it’s easy to see how putting a hole in the skull might seem like the logical thing to do.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT DEPLETED CRANIUM

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The Skeptic’s Calling

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 22, 2010

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