Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Mothers hacked in albino attacks

Posted in News by Skepdude on November 14, 2008

Two mothers in western Tanzania have been attacked by gangs who were after their children who have albinism.

The women were hacked with machetes when the attackers failed to find the two children.

Albinos have been targeted in a series of killings around the country due to a belief their body parts can make magic potions more effective.

At least 30 people with albinism have been killed since March, including a seven-month old baby.

On Wednesday, attackers forced a woman to take them to her home, looking for her nine-year-old daughter in Kibondo District, close to the Burundi border.

The girl was not in the house and so the men attacked the mother.

In the second attack, a gang of four men broke into a house at the Lugufu camp in Kigoma, which hosts refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, looking for a child with albinism.

The child, aged two, escaped kidnap after falling under the bed unnoticed.

The women are undergoing treatment for their injuries.


Is the Popularity of Homeopathy Collapsing?

Posted in The Quackometer by Skepdude on November 14, 2008

There is a claim by many sceptical writers that we live in a new age of endarkenment. Our public lives, whether in politics, universities, businesses and health, face an onslaught of irrational thought. However I have uncovered some remarkable evidence to suggest that interest in homeopathy is declining rather aggressively. I am not sure I believe it, and I want to encourage comments and interpretations to see if this might be real.

All this came about because Google have unveiled the latest part of their rather splendid toolset that allows researchers to look at search trends and see how this might be used to monitor and predict all sorts of behaviour. As a showcase for their techniques, they have developed flutrends that shows how people are searching about flu across the United States. They believe this correlates very closely with incidence of the disease and thus can be used as a near real time monitor of the severity of outbreaks. Standard reporting techniques mean that reporting lags two weeks behind and so this technique may be a much more timely and accurate measurement. Fascinating stuff. And very useful if you want to deploy resources effectively.

So, I decided to play around myself and naturally wanted to see if people were looking for stuff about homeopathy on the web. The graph below shows the relative incidence of the search term in the United Kingdom over the past few years. (The lower part of the graph shows results for news items.


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Bill Donahue: If You Want to Spew Ridiculous Nonsense, Please Make a New, Relevant Argument

Posted in Enemy Combatant by Skepdude on November 14, 2008

Oh, crazy crazy Bill.

It’s absolutely nutjobs like you that make it pretty damn hard to imagine such a thing as a genuinely intelligent christian (or catholic).

Cool, we get it. You believe in god, you think everyone should, and you don’t like that those stupid meanie head atheists won’t play your game, and are putting signs on busses and not sitting down in their corner quietly, hiding and hoping you won’t notice them. We get it, dude.

However, you’d stand a fairer chance of convincing even one person who doesn’t already agree with you if you’d refrain from:

Insisting that we only pick on the christian faith. Stop that. The reason you see more actions targeting or specifying Abrahamic faiths is that they are prevalent in the society we live in. That makes them more relevant to the discussion. Dig? Cool? Got it? Gonna stop making that tired argument? I sure hope so.


Russia church ‘stolen by thieves’

Posted in News by Skepdude on November 14, 2008

A 200-year-old church building has disappeared from a village in central Russia, officials from the Russian Orthodox Church say.
The building had stood near the village of Komarovo since 1809.It was intact in July but some time in early October thieves made off with it brick by brick, they said.