Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The Salad: A Tasty Logical Fallacy

Posted in Rational Moms by Skepdude on October 15, 2008

There’s a great local legend where I live, in the Los Angeles area. A local restaurant serves a salad that is supposed to make overdue women go into labor. It is called “The Salad.” And it’s delicious. Even if you are not expecting a baby, I recommend it! The restaurant actually has piles and piles of journals with entries from women who have tried The Salad. Some come back after they give birth to update that The Salad worked for them.

This is a great example of a post-hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Obviously, women who are past their due date are going to give birth any day. So they eat The Salad, go into labor, and attribute the onset of labor to The Salad.

One day, in a prenatal yoga class, a couple came by to show off their new baby. “By the way,” said the husband, “The Salad doesn’t work!” He detailed his and his wife’s efforts to induce labor. I was thinking that he had possibly learned that the whole myth of The Salad was a post-hoc fallacy, until he said, “What finally worked was Thai food! We ate it, and she went into labor that night!”


Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

Teaching children faith as fact is mental child abuse. It stifles creativity, hinders critical thought, opens the door for children to accept logical fallacies as truth, and most likely leads to a “crisis of faith” (read: identity deconstruction) later in life. What’s more, once one allows (or encourages) a child’s evolving reasoning process to digress into a faith-based, authoritarian pursuit, he or she practically closes the door to the spontaneous pursuit curiosity, one of humanity’s fundamental teaching tools. I could never allow that in my home, and I would never want that for my child. I went through that identity deconstruction, and for those of you who have too, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Rational Moms

How they do the voodoo that they do so well – Part 2

Posted in Photon in the Darkness by Skepdude on September 22, 2008

End Games:

Eventually, even the most successful, charismatic “alternative” practitioner will have a patient who doesn’t improve enough to satisfy the parents. Not only are these parents a real drag on the “alternative” practitioner’s ego, there is the very real chance that they might start to talk about how “the Emperor has no clothes”. For those situations, there are a number of strategies that are typically used.

Did you follow my instructions to the letter?:

One of the oldest dodges in the “alternative” medicine “biz” is to prescribe a regimen of treatment that is too complicated for most patients to follow. If they get better (by chance), then it was due to the “treatment” – if they don’t get better….well, they didn’t follow all of the instructions exactly, did they?

Much the same is happening in “alternative” autism therapy. One of the first chelation regimens promoted for treating autism required that the parents give their children a dose every four hours around the clock for two weeks. This meant waking the child up in the middle of the night – every night – for two weeks and getting them to drink a foul-smelling liquid.

The parents were cautioned that missing a single dose – or being late by more than two hours – meant risking having more mercury deposited in the brain. This – needless to say – was absolute nonsense. But no parent who failed to see the promised results could honestly say that they had given every dose on time.