Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Skepnews – 8/23/08

Posted in Skepnews by Skepdude on August 22, 2008

  • Dinosaurs helped build the pyramids – Far from becoming extinct 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs actually co-existed with early humans, and even helped in the construction of the pyramids.
    This is the word of Vince Fenech, Evangelist pastor and director of a fully licensed, State-approved Creationist institution which admits children aged between four and 18.
  • Oregon tribe to allow same sex marriagesAt the request of a lesbian couple, the Coquille Indian Tribe on the southern Oregon coast has adopted a law recognizing same-sex marriage. Tribal law specialists say the Coquille appear to be the first tribe to sanction such marriages. Most tribal law doesn’t address the issue. The Navajo and Cherokee tribes prohibit same-sex marriages
  • Claims of magnets’ effect on water don’t stick – Magnets have no significant role in treating water, despite the claims of their manufacturers, according to a new study by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan. So-called magnetic water- treatment devices, which are said to remove and reduce residual chlorine and toxic substances through magnetism, have practically no effect, the center said Wednesday. Companies manufacturing or selling the devices — often over the Internet or door to door — claim to improve the taste of water, giving it a “softer, mellower,” flavor through magnetism.
  • Opt-out plan shields doctors over abortions – The Bush administration Thursday announced plans to implement a regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their beliefs. The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds. “People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. – Skepdude says : What if a city hall clerk refuses to perform a marriage for an interracial couple because they find it “morally wrong”?
  • Saudi ban on woman drivers may be erodingWhen Ruwaida al-Habis’ father and two brothers were badly burned in a fire, she had no choice but to break Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers to get them to a clinic. “When I pulled up, a crowd of people surrounded the car and stared as if they were seeing extraterrestrial beings,” the 20-year-old university student told The Associated Press. “Instead of focusing on the burn victims, the nurses kept repeating, ‘You drove them here?'” Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans all women – Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and women who cannot afford the $300-$400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor. But there are signs support for the ban is eroding.
  • Survey: Americans feel churches shouldn’t meddle in politics – The survey suggests that for the first time in more than a decade, there has been a shift away from the view that religious groups should influence social and political issues. Fifty-two percent of poll respondents said churches should stay quiet, while 46 percent said churches should express political views

Measles Outbreak – Thanks, Jenny

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on August 22, 2008

The CDC yesterday updated their report on recent cases of measles. In 2000, thanks to the aggressive vaccination program, measles was declared eradicated from the US. There continued to be on average 63 cases per year from 2001-2007 due to imported cases from outside the US. To ironically quote Jim Carrey from the aptly titled, A Series of Unfortunate Events – “Then the unthinkable happened.”

The anti-vaccination movement was given a boost by actress Jenny McCarthy, who was convinced that vaccines were responsible for her son’s apparent autism. She was later joined in her crusade by her boyfriend, Jim Carrey. The movement had already been gaining some traction over false fears that thimerosal in vaccines (although mostly removed by 2002) was linked to autism. Such fears had already caused a drop in vaccination rates in the UK with subsequent measles outbreaks. Now these irrational fears were coming to the US, helped along by scientifically-illiterate pretty-people.


Just Like Employees Do Not Leave the Office without the Permission of the Boss, Women Should Not Leave the Home without the Husband’s Permission

Posted in Muslims Against Sharia by Skepdude on August 22, 2008


Following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi Shura Council member Sheik Abd Al-Muhsin Al-Abikan, which aired on MBC TV on August 7, 2008:

Sheik Abd Al-Muhsin Al-Abikan: Allah said, in Surat Al-Nisa, of the Koran: “Men are guardians of women, because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they support them from their means.” So men have this guardianship. This does not mean they can oppress or humiliate their wives. Any group of people must have a leader. A state must have a leader – a king, a president, an emir, or an imam. The same is true for the government – ministries must have ministers in charge, and departments must have directors. This is human nature. There must be leadership. The household consists of several family members, who must have a leader. Who is the leader? The man. Nobody can claim that the verse “Men are guardians of women” shows contempt for women. This is not true.

The husband is the leader of the family, and he runs its affairs. He is in charge of the family, he is the shepherd of this family. He is responsible for his flock, as the Prophet said: “The man is a shepherd to his household, and is responsible for them.” So the man is the guardian. He must act justly. He must raise his children well. He must fulfill his obligations toward his wife and children. As for the woman, she cannot leave her house without her husband’s permission, just like no employee may leave the office without permission from the boss. View clip …


The latest scummy tactic of altie med – blaming medicine for celebrity deaths.

Posted in Altie Meds, Denialism by Skepdude on August 22, 2008

A fellow medical student once asked me why I thought people become hostile to science-based medicine. Certainly our own failures contribute. When we have no treatments for a disease, or if the treatments themselves may also incur significant morbidity, it is understandable that patients will become disillusioned with what doctors have to offer.

However there is another cause for this hostility towards medicine, and it isn’t the occasional crank scibling with an axe to grind against MDs. It’s the constant anti-science propaganda being spouted out by the hawkers of alternative medicine.

Orac and others have despaired over the infiltration of woo into mainstream medicine under a banner of tolerance and the noble goal of avoiding confrontation with patients over deeply-held beliefs. However this has proved more and more a tactical error as we’ve seen that CAM and altie medicine do not seek detente but is at war with legitimate medicine and science itself. Besides the fact that there is no good reason to water down medical school with unproven nonsense and the latest placebo fad being sold by crooks, alternative medicine should not be taught because doing so is not just a failing to meet the barbarians at the gate, but is actively inviting them in to destroy everything we’ve worked for.


Negative Energy Research

Posted in New Age, paranormal, Skeptico by Skepdude on August 22, 2008


Beware of skeptics – we wield amazing powers!

From last week’s Skeptics’ Circle and Hyphoid Logic I found this story from the St. Petersburg Times, reporting on our awesome ability to wield negative energy:

Virginia Levy walked into the library downtown to prove she was psychic. A group of doubters called the Tampa Bay Skeptics questioned the claims of people like her and had set up a challenge. Levy came to meet it. There sat a row of boxes. Could she guess which contained crystals? She was given seven chances. Seven times she failed. It wasn’t inability that did her in, she said recently, the bitterness still evident in her voice. It was the bespectacled host of the project, Gary Posner, an unbeliever who she said patronized her, creating an atmosphere filled with negative energy. She purposely chose the wrong box each time, she said, then left in a huff. [My bold.]

She also explained exactly how we do it:

“What they’re doing is using the laws of attraction,” Levy said. “They’re actually using the same powers that psychics use, except in reverse.”

Of course – we’re using The Secret. It all makes sense now.

There have been numerous claims by psychics and parapsychologists, that skeptics’ negative energy causes psi experiments to fail, but as far as I know, there has been no actual research on this subject.  This is an “anomaly” that I believe urgently needs rectifying.  So, I hereby propose a new avenue for psi research – testing skeptics’ ability to wield negative energy.

The Protocol

Here’s an idea of how it would work. We start with some standard psi tests – talking to the dead, remote viewing, Ganzfeld-type judging of target pictures (Zener cards are so 1950s), Rupert Sheldrake’s staring experiments – you name it. These tests are performed in a room in front of a one way mirror. Behind the mirror, either there is a skeptic watching the experiment or there isn’t, but double-blind controls insure none of the experimenters or subjects know which. The objective is to determine whether or not the skeptic’s presence (and therefore negative energy) influences the results of the experiment.

If the test is successful, we would move to Phase 2.  This could include answering the following additional questions:

  1. Does the skeptic still negatively influence the test if he is behind the mirror but not observing the test (he’s reading a book, say, or listening to his iPod)?
  2. Does the skeptic still negatively influence the test if he watches the experiment on a closed circuit TV on a different floor in the building?  What about is he’s across town?  Or in another city?  Does the effect stay constant regardless of the distance?
  3. What if the skeptic and his negative energy is shielded in some way – for example, inside a Faraday cage?
  4. Does the skeptic still negatively influence the test if he watches it later on a videotape? In other words, does watching the experiment on tape retroactively alter the success of the test?  (Some have claimed psi works this way.  Seriously.)
  5. What if two tests are made and taped, and only one is viewed at random by the skeptic? Will the experimenters able to predict which tape is randomly selected in the future based on the psychic’s test results in the present?
  6. If multiple psychics are performing the same test at the same time, will their combined psychic abilities overwhelm the skeptic’s negative energy?

All important questions and the answers could be groundbreaking. And if successful, it could be a legitimate way for skeptics to apply for Randi’s million, or at least receive some payment from psi researchers for taking part in their experiments.

Sheldrake, Schwartz – I’m available.


What Misogyny?

Posted in Humorous, Red Pill Rashad, Religion by Skepdude on August 22, 2008
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