Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on October 19, 2009

Ullman is notorious as a homeopath and internet lurker, spreading undiluted nonsense as far and wide as his typing fingers can manage.

Steven Novella writing on Skepticblog

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I endorse this idea too

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 18, 2009

I am Skepdude and I approve this!

An Open Letter to Bill Maher on Vaccinations

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 16, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT (I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M LINKNG HERE) HUFFINGTON POST

From Fellow Skeptic Michael Shermer
Editor of Skeptic magazine and “Skeptic” columnist for Scientific American

Dear Bill,

Years ago you invited me to appear as a fellow skeptic several times on your ABC show Politically Incorrect, and I have ever since shared your skepticism on so many matters important to both of us: creationism and intelligent design, religious supernaturalism and New Age paranormal piffle, 9/11 “truthers”, Obama “birthers”, and all manner of conspiratorial codswallop. On these matters, and many others, you rightly deserved the Richard Dawkins Award from Richard’s foundation, which promotes reason and science.

However, I believe that when it comes to alternative medicine in general and vaccinations in particular you have fallen prey to the same cognitive biases and conspiratorial thinking that you have so astutely identified in others. In fact, the very principle of how vaccinations work is additional proof (as if we needed more) against the creationists that evolution happened and that natural selection is real: vaccinations work by tricking the body’s immune system into thinking that it has already had the disease for which the vaccination was given. Our immune system “adapts” to the invading pathogens and “evolves” to fight them, such that when it encounters a biologically similar pathogen (which itself may have evolved) it has in its armory the weapons needed to fight it. This is why many of us born in the 1950s and before may already have some immunity against the H1N1 flu because of its genetic similarity to earlier influenza viruses, and why many of those born after really should get vaccinated.

Vaccinations are not 100% effective, nor are they risk free. But the benefits far outweigh the risks, and when communities in the U.S. and the U.K. in recent years have foregone vaccinations in large numbers, herd immunity is lost and communicable diseases have come roaring back. This is yet another example of evolution at work, but in this case it is working against us. (See http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org for numerous articles answering every one of the objections to vaccinations.)

Vaccination is one of science’s greatest discoveries. It is with considerable irony, then, that as a full-throated opponent of the nonsense that calls itself Intelligent Design, your anti-vaccination stance makes you something of an anti-evolutionist. Since you have been so vocal in your defense of the theory of evolution, I implore you to be consistent in your support of the theory across all domains and to please reconsider your position on vaccinations. It was not unreasonable to be a vaccination skeptic in the 1880s, which the co-discovered of natural selection–Alfred Russel Wallace–was, but we’ve learned a lot over the past century. Evolution explains why vaccinations work. Please stop denying evolution in this special case.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT (I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M LINKNG HERE) HUFFINGTON POST

More Nonsense from Dr. Jay Gordon

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on October 15, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT NEUROLOGICA

Dr. Jay Gordon is a pediatrician to a particular subculture of pseudoscientific celebrities, such as Jenny McCarthy. He lends his MD cred to this community. He also appears, in my opinion, to be a shameless self-promoter – one of those pop professionals (Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil) who has sold his soul for some easy celebrity.

Regardless of his motivations, he has been spouting arrogant nonsense about vaccines for years, essentially arguing that his clinical gut feeling and anecdotal experience trump the actual science. This is exactly the wrong approach to science-based medicine.

In a recent open letter on his website, he adds to the anti-vax chorus advising not to get the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine. It’s almost as if this crowd wants to maximize the morbidity and suffering from this somewhat preventable disease. I know this is not literally true, but their ideologically motivated and confused actions will have the same effect.

Gordon starts his letter with, of course, some anecdotal evidence from his practice, admitting that he is seeing many cases of flu-like illness over this summer, but:

They all felt miserable, and they are all feeling just fine now.

The implication here is that H1N1 is not that bad. In an average flu season, 30,000 Americans die from the flu. By all accounts, we are in for at least a very heavy flu season, and H1N1 has been killing more young and otherwise healthy people as well as pregnant women (while the regular flu tends to kill the old and infirm). Again we see Gordon perfectly willing to substitute his own anecdotes for hard data.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT NEUROLOGICA

BCA libels Simon Singh!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 15, 2009

In a stunning turn of events the British Chiropractic Association’s press release which I wrote about a while ago, has defamatory language in which they accuse Simon of  having “maliciously attacked” the BCA, thus putting themselves in a worse position than Simon was for using the word “bogus”. The BCA is now in hot water and as Jack of Kent points out Simon can now sue them for libel! Amazing, let’s see what Simon does about this! He’s been handed a great hand by his enemies!  They have replaced the original Press Release with a modified one, but the original one lives in teh intertubes; they can’t hide it.

I told you they’re losers didnt I.

Britich Chiropractic Associaton a.k.a sore losers

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 15, 2009

The British Chiropractic Association, BCA does not like the latest judge ruling giving Simon Singh the right to actually defend himself. The HORROR! So today they sent out a pathetic press release.They whine that the judge didn’t get to hear all sides of the story. No shit Sherlock! You were given an opportunity to lay out your side on the Guardian Newspaper and instead chose to try and intimidate Simon by suing him. Now pay the consequences!

They whine that Simon wants science writers to be able to write what they want free of consequences. Wrong losers! He wants to be able to tell the TRUTH and engage in open scientific debate,  without fearing a long, expensive, punitive libel law suit such as the one you choose to engage on. Now pay the consequences!

They whine that Simon Singh did not retract his article and apologize when given the chance! Why should he o’ troubled ones? He made a claim that is factually correct. You cannot, and you have not even when you pathetically tried, to prove scientifically that your claims are true. Instead you chose to sue, trying to sweep this mess under the rug. And Simon Singh was not intimidated, he took the fight to you and now you feel the rug being swept up from underneath your feet. Now pay the consequences!
The BCA would do well to be aware of the Streisand Effect or else they run the risk of learning first hand of the Dion Effect (sobbing uncontrollably and wishing you’d taken a different course of action!)

2012: Combat the Nonsense

Posted in Universe Today by Skepdude on October 15, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT UNIVERSE TODAY

2012 poster, with a little addition by N. Atkinson2012 poster, with a little addition by N. Atkinson

In a rather cruel media ploy, the creators of the upcoming science fiction movie “2012” are purposely feeding the flames of internet panic about the ridiculous claims that the world will end in 2012. This viral marketing campaign has created fake science websites and encourages people to search for “2012” on the Web. While there are many websites, like Universe Today, which provide solid and methodical evidence that the 2012 hysteria is complete nonsense, hordes of other sites out there are full of gobbledygook and a gross misstating of what they claim to be scientific evidence that some astronomical event will decimate our planet. Why are these hoaxers doing this? For the oldest reason ever: for profit and notoriety. If you visit their websites, most are trying to sell books or videos.

For those reading this article because you have concerns about 2012, we encourage you to read our complete series of articles on 2012, and it won’t cost you a thing. The articles were written by Dr. Ian O’Neil, who has a PhD in solar physics. Additionally, below is a list of other resources that should help answer any questions or concerns you may have on this topic:

1. NASA scientist Dr. David Morrison Dr. Morrison, a world-renowned expert on the solar system (and asteroid impacts) has published a free pdf, “Doomsday 2012, Planet Nibiru and Cosmophobia,” a concise summary of the claims and answers containing solid scientific responses. It is published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific as a public service.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT UNIVERSE TODAY

Permission Granted

Posted in Jack of Kent by Skepdude on October 14, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT JACK OF KENT

Simon Singh was today granted permission to appeal the High Court ruling on meaning, a meaning which I described in May as astonishingly illiberal.

The meaning is that of the following passage in the original Guardian article:

“The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organization is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.”

Simon applied for this permission so he can appeal the adverse ruling, which had held that in that passage:

– he had made factual statements rather than mere comment (and this is legally important as factual statements need to be justified, and this is difficult, whilst comment only needs to be shown to be fair); and

– the factual statements meant that the BCA were knowingly dishonest (and this would be, in my view, impossible to prove and was not Simon’s intention nor, again in my view, what he actually said).

But to even make this appeal Simon required permission. This was essential, for such an appeal is not an automatic entitlement and so one has to apply for it.

The test for permission to appeal here was whether Simon has an arguable case to appeal the adverse ruling.

Simon had lost his two previous two applications for permission to appeal – the first at the initial High Court hearing and the second in July “on the papers” by another Lord Justice of Appeal.

Both refusals were to the effect that Simon did not have an arguable case.

After two such refusals the main options for Simon were to either proceed to trial (or settle) on the basis of the adverse ruling on meaning, or to make his third and final application by way of an oral hearing before the Court of Appeal.

He chose to go for the third, oral application.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT JACK OF KENT

I endorse this idea

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 14, 2009

I am Skepdude and I endorse this.

A North Carolina pastor says his church plans to burn Bibles and books by Christian authors on Halloween to light a fire under true believers.

Pastor Marc Grizzard told Asheville TV station WLOS that the King James version of the Bible is the only one his small western North Carolina church follows. He says all other versions, such as the Living Bible, are “satanic” and “perversions” of God’s word.

Don’t get me wrong, its the wrong reason for doing this, but it’s a start. Personally I would prefer that people simply stop taking these books, whatever the version, so seriously instead of burning them, but hey I’ll take it.

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The real truth about vaccinations

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 13, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT YAHOO7NEWS

I want you to imagine a medical product which can save and has saved many millions of lives, the majority of them children.

Imagine that the procedure is safe (not 100%, absolutely safe, of course, because nothing is that) and has been used literally billions of times with only a small number of bad reactions.

It is cheap and can be administered by people with almost no training. It is not very profitable for the pharmaceutical industry because research is expensive, but the buyers are mainly governments and charities who are very cost conscious.

Now I want you to imagine that there is a highly organised opposition to this procedure.

The opponents are prepared to lie without remorse about non-existent dangers of the procedure (and we know they are lying because the truth has been pointed out to them many times).

They lie about the manufacturing process and they even lie about the ingredients in order to suggest that parents who allow their children to undergo the procedure are sentencing those children to eternity in Hell.

Researchers associated with the procedure are vilified and even receive credible death threats.

It is even claimed that people undergoing the procedure might be marking themselves out for extermination in a plan for global genocide.

And what is this terrible procedure which is so awful that its opponents have to discard all truth, science and apparently even sometimes sanity to defeat it?

Vaccination.

I have often been accused of being offensive when I call the opponents of vaccination “anti-vaccination liars”. Well, what else can I call people who lie about vaccines?

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT YAHOO7NEWS