Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Scientology is at it again

Posted in Uncategorized by Rodibidably on February 17, 2009

[Originally posted at: The Good Atheist]

Scientologists love to attack psychiatry. They believe that it is responsible somehow for all of the evils in the world. They deride all prescription drugs, which they view as fundamentally changing someone’s personality. This coming from a group who’s main intent is to make money, and to mentally enslave people strikes me as ironic, to say the lest.

According to the moron in this video, Bin Laden is a patsy of a much more dangerous individual. The real threat is psychology, used to brainwash terrorist and to turn them into killers using prescription drugs. They claim that Bin Laden would have not tried to kill Americans if he hadn’t been conditioned by a al-Zawahiri, who they believe is a psychiatrist. In truth, he’s a surgeon, but this minor inconvenient is completely ignored by these clowns. They prefer the comfortable bubble of delusion.

[Read the rest of this post at: The Good Atheist]

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Medium Contacts Nonexistent Brother

Posted in JREF by Rodibidably on February 17, 2009

[Originally posted at: JREF]

Written by Harriet Hall

I’m always on the lookout for skeptical depictions of mediums in fiction, such as Robert Browning’s delicious poem “Mr. Sludge the Medium.” I just found another example where I least expected, and I wanted to share it with readers of Swift.

Latin American literature is famous for “magical realism” and its fiction is replete with ghosts and spooky doings. Yet I found a thoroughly skeptical view of a medium in Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.”

[Read the rest of this post at: JREF]

Homeopathy is worse than witchcraft – and the NHS must stop paying for it

Posted in Confessions of a Quackbuster by Skepdude on February 17, 2009

Many people swear by homeopathy. It is a popular dinner party topic of the Hampstead set, of which I am a member. My friends – otherwise educated, cultured people – say it can help them recover from a cold in just seven days. Yes, I reply, and left alone it would take a whole week.

The problem is that few people know what homeopathy really is. I’ll tell you: it is a 200-year-old practice that hasn’t changed since its inception.

Homeopathy is based on three principles: treat the symptoms of a disease rather than the disease itself; cure like with like (an onion makes your eyes stream and so does a cold, so treat a cold with an onion); and the greater the dilution of the ‘medicine’, the more potent the potion.

Some homeopathic tinctures contain so little of the magic ingredient there could just as easily be a molecule of my urine in them.

Homeopathic companies are making a fortune marketing placebos. Yet, despite this, last September, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority approved the marketing of homeopathic remedies for ‘self-limiting conditions’ (these are conditions which should improve by themselves) – even if there is no evidence of their efficacy.

This scares me. Homeopathy is to medicine what astrology is to astronomy: it’s witchcraft – totally barmy, totally refuted, and yet it’s available on the NHS. For while homeopathic medicine is not toxic, its use as an alternative to conventional medicine can, in fact, cause serious harm.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “Confessions of a Quackbuster”

Breaking News: Autism Treatment Center of America still blames vaccines

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 17, 2009

Well I guess no one is surprised by this but it turns out that the “vaccines cause autism” crowd remains convinced that vaccines are to be blamed for autism. The latest comes in the form of an article at the Age of Autims, in which Raun K. Kaufman, CEO of Autism Treatment Center of America issued a statement last week saying:

“We disagree strongly with the court’s ruling and stand firmly behind parents of children with autism and other developmental disorders. Although there is currently ostensibly no statistical proof that vaccines have caused some cases of autism there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence. We work with thousands of parents, hundreds of whom have told us stories about how their children appeared completely typical before being vaccinated and within days or weeks of vaccination displayed the symptoms of autism.

The program we teach, The Son-Rise Program, is built upon the idea that the parent is the child’s best resource. No one has the love, life-long dedication and day-to-day understanding of their child that parents have. When parents tell us that their child was typical, received the vaccines, then developed autism soon after, we believe them. In everyday language we call these true stories. We do not believe in waiting 20 years for the right kind of statistics, but rather helping parents and their children now. Apparently the court disagreed.”

First of all we all stand behind the parents of children with autism and other developmental disorders. Second of all, so far as I have been interested in the issue I have heard parents of autistic children argue both sides of the argument. His statement makes it sound as if parents of autistic children fall in his camp when in fact I don’t perceive that as being the case. I don’t have any numbers to back up this statement, that is just what I feel based on what I have read. Parents fall on both sides of the spectrum.

Secondly, he agrees that there is no proof that vaccines caused any autism, but yet he believes, because of a “plethora of anecdotal evidence”.  He does not seem to understand how we obtain knowledge in this universe. The anecdotal evidence serves as a first step in determining if there needs to be further investigation, but when the rigorous investigation comes back negative, you don’t discount it and go back to the anecdotal evidence. That’s preposterous and ridiculously stupid. What it says is basically : I don’t care what the truth is, I choose to believe the weaker evidence instead of the strong evidence”.

Thirdly, this statement is dangerous. While it is true that no one ” has the love, life-long dedication and day-to-day understanding of their child that parents have.” it is not true to imply that because of that parents know best when it comes to complex medical issues. It is certainly false to say that parents know better about autism, solely because they have an autistic child.That’s akin to saying that I know more about fixing my car than my mechanic, because I have owned my care for 20 years and I love it dearly.

When parents tell us that their child was typical, received the vaccines, then developed autism soon after, we believe them. In everyday language we call these true stories.” I call them non sequiturs. While I do not doubt that temporally that is what happened, certainly given the vaccine schedule, the kid is bound to have had a vaccine at the most a few months before the diagnosis, I do doubt the parent’s ability to infer a cause and effect relationship from a sample of one.How can they know that it was the vaccine that caused autism? Are they really sure the kid did not have autistic symptoms before the vaccine? Can they be sure the kid was “autism free” right up to the day they got vaccinated? Are they not confusing the onset of the disease with the diagnosis? Sure the kid was diagnosed after a vaccine, but does that mean he was disease free until then? I doubt that. Most people get a cancer diagnosis way after the cancer entered their body. Time of diagnosis on it’s own does not imply time of disease onset. Are these parents telling us that the doctors that diagnosed their kids told them their kid could not have had autism before the shot? I doubt that.

I wonder what he calls the parent’s that say that autism is not caused by vaccines. Not that it makes much difference, at the end of the day they are not professionals and their opinion is just that, a personal opinion, but still it makes a good comparison I think.

Christians gather in celebration … of Darwin

Posted in Uncategorized by Rodibidably on February 17, 2009

[Originally posted at: OregonLive.com]

This week marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and this year the 150th of “The Origin of Species” and the fourth in a campaign to proclaim — from the pulpit — that religion and science are not sworn enemies.

More than a dozen Oregon faith communities are among 980 congregations taking part in Evolution Weekend in all 50 states and 14 countries.

“People assume that a large portion of Christianity is opposed to science,” said the Rev. Daniel E.H. Bryant of Eugene, who was polishing his sermon earlier this week. “We aren’t,” said the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “We are not literalists in our approach to Scripture,” he said in an interview. “We take creation seriously, not literally.”

Bryant is one of more than 246 Oregonians out of 11,800 Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist clergy members who have signed one of three versions of “The Clergy Letter” since 2004. The letter declares that “the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth” and that rejecting it or portraying it as “one theory among others” amounts to embracing “scientific ignorance” and passing it along to the next generation.

[Read the rest of this post at: OregonLive.com]