Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The Limits of Tolerance

Posted in Atheist Revolution by Skepdude on December 11, 2008

With Christmas approaching, some atheists are starting to call on other atheists to be more tolerant of religious belief, nicer to believers, and the like. There may be some real merit in doing just that. But before we all hop on the tolerance bandwagon and convince ourselves that we should shelve our quest for equality this time of year and withhold criticism of an irrational and dangerous belief system, I’d like to offer a few words of restraint.

Do you know what a rape myth is? Briefly, psychological research has demonstrated that male rapists and other men predisposed to sexual violence against women are more likely than the average man to hold erroneous beliefs about male-female interactions, female sexuality, and the like. In non-offender samples (e.g., male college students), the tendency to agree with rape myths has been associated with negative attitudes toward women and more positive attitudes toward violence against women.

If we consider just a few examples of rape myths, these findings will not surprise you.

  • “Women secretly enjoy being raped.”
  • “Women ‘ask for it’ by their dress or actions.”
  • “If I spend a lot of money on our date, she owes me sex.”


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Use of alternatives to traditional medicine holding steady

Posted in News by Skepdude on December 11, 2008

WASHINGTON — More than one-third of U.S. adults and nearly 12 percent of children use alternatives to traditional medicine, according to a large federal survey released Wednesday that documents how entrenched acupuncture, herbal remedies and other once-exotic therapies have become.

The survey of more than 32,000 Americans in 2007, which for the first time included children, found that use of yoga, “probiotics,” fish oil and other “complementary and alternative” therapies held steady among adults since the last national survey five years earlier, and that such treatments have become part of health care for many youngsters.

“It’s clear that millions of American every year are turning to complementary and alternative medicine,” said Richard Nahin, of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which released the survey. “The use of complementary and alternative medicine seems to have stabilized in the United States.”

The most commonly used are dietary supplements and herbal products such as echinacea, flaxseed oil and ginseng, followed by deep-breathing exercises, meditation, chiropractors, massage and yoga. While fewer Americans were using certain diets and trying herbal remedies such as echinacea to cure colds, the popularity of acupuncture, meditation, yoga and massage all grew.


Vitamins ‘do not cut cancer risk’

Posted in Uncategorized by Skepdude on December 11, 2008

Taking vitamin C or E does not reduce the risk of prostate cancers – or other forms of the disease, two large US studies suggest.

Both trials were set up following some evidence that taking supplements might have a positive effect.

But one study of 35,533 men, and a second of 15,000 doctors, found no evidence that cancer rates were any lower in those taking supplements.

Both studies feature in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A number of trials had suggested that taking vitamins could cut the risk of certain cancers by boosting levels of beneficial antioxidants which work to minimise damage in the tissues, but the results were mixed.


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The Truth About Alternative Medicine

Posted in News by Skepdude on December 11, 2008

Is natural better? Apparently, a lot of women think so. A survey released today by the National Institutes of Health found that 42.8 percent of American women use some form of complementary or alternative medicine, compared to 33.5 percent of men. That’s similar to the gender difference in use of conventional medicine, says Richard Nahin, of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The most popular alternative remedies were nonvitamin and nonmineral products such as fish oil, omega-3 and glucosamine. Use of mind-body therapies such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga has also climbed since the last such poll in 2002. The report, which uses data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, also provides even more specific clues about the most likely consumers of these treatments: 50-somethings who have graduate degrees, are relatively well off financially, live in the West and have quit smoking.

That’s a pretty desirable demographic, and marketing for natural products and supplements often aims squarely at the common ailments and anxieties of women in that target group, especially hot flashes, memory problems and arthritis. But by the time they reach a certain age, women should have learned a few things—like being wary of claims for miracle cures.

Other red flags are phrases like “no side effects,” “cure-all” or “totally safe and natural.” Labeling a product as natural does not automatically mean it’s safe for everyone. Herbal and dietary supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as food rather than drugs, so they don’t have to meet the same safety and efficacy standards as prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. You should always tell your health-care provider about everything you are taking, because some alternative or herbal products can interfere with prescription medications. In recent years, more physicians have been encouraging their patients to use supplements when there is proof that they work. Your doctor is also likely to know the most effective dose for you.