Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Is religion child abuse? Lets ask Matani Shakya.

Posted in Edger by Skepdude on October 8, 2008

After being inspected, probably in the nude, by a cabal of elderly religious judges for bodily imperfections, she was then taken to her final test: a night in a room filled with the severed heads of farm animals. Really. If she showed any fear, she would be dumped back with her family. But, she didn’t, and she now gets to live a life of complete seclusion in a temple, with no contact with her family, being adored by the devout. This will go on until she hits puberty, at which point she will be unceremoniously deposed by another lucky young Shakya and will spend the rest of her life in probable poverty and cursed with a superstition that keeps bachelors from seeking the hand of young ex-goddesses.

Also, Matani is three years old


Hypnosis and hot flashes: When will they ever learn?

Posted in Respectful Insolence by Skepdude on October 8, 2008

For women undergoing menopause, hot flashes are a real problem. In my specialty, as I’ve pointed out before, women undergoing treatment for breast cancer are often forced into premature menopause by the treatments to which we subject them. It can be chemotherapy, although far more often it’s the estrogen-blocking drugs that we use to treat breast cancers that have the estrogen receptor. Estrogen stimulates such tumors to grow, and blocking estrogen is a very effective treatment for them, be it with tamoxifen or the newer aromatase inhibors like Arimidex. The utterly predictable consequence, unfortunately, is an artificially-induced menopause.

I’ve written at least twice before about this topic in the context of various poorly designed studies of acupuncture for breast cancer-induced hot flashes. There’s a reason for this. Despite studies demonstrating that hormone replacement therapy doesn’t decrease cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women and increased the risk of breast cancer, for severe menopausal symptoms in women without breast cancer, estrogen remains the gold standard, and it’s reasonably safe to use for short periods of time. Consequently, for menopause having nothing to do with breast cancer, estrogen can be used, at least for the short term, if nonhormonal therapies don’t work. Not so in the case of women rendered menopausal by breast cancer therapy. Indeed, it defeats the purpose of antiestrogen drugs to replace the estrogen they are blocking. Not only that, but even after breast cancer therapy when a woman undergos menopause naturally, estrogen replacement increases their risk of a recurrence. Consequently, if nonhormonal methods supported by science don’t work, then there’s nothing else, and, unfortunately, most science-based nonhormonal therapies such as antidepressants do not work very well and have significant side effects.

That’s where the temptation to turn to woo comes in.


Are Humans Evolving?

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on October 8, 2008

According to geneticist Steve Jones human evolution is grinding to a halt. Jones says there are several factors that drive evolution: mutations, natural selection, and randomness. He further argues that the decrease in older fathers is leading to a decrease in mutations, since the sperm of older fathers contains many more mutations than younger ones.

This is an interesting argument, but I find several problems with it. First, I am curious as to what the data say about the average age of fathers. I would have thought that this was increasing, not decreasing, as people are having children later. Jones points to alpha males who would father hundreds of children even into their 70’s or 80’s. It is true that in primate species where males have harems, like baboons, alpha males can father a significant portion of the next generation, but this in not true for homo sapiens. Humans dominantly follow a pair-bonding model of mating, even though there is much cultural variation.


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Urine proves Islam to be the true religion

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 8, 2008

Assuming the translation is correct, this is disturbing and stupid beyond explanation. See/read for yourself.