Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Bloggers Behind Simon Singh – Where The News Is At

Posted in Podblack Cat by Skepdude on August 20, 2008

My fellow Translucent Science bloggers, who have long been keeping a keen eye on the Dore developments

whilst I’ve been busy travelling for research purposes, have all the buzz for you on what’s going on with the British Chiropractic Association vs Simon Singh.

But first – there’s a brand new review out in the Wall Street Journal on Trick or Treatment today, all about the history and trends regarding alternative medicines, by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst:

…Based at the University of Exeter in England, [Dr. Ernst] leads a research group that has spent 15 years studying alternative remedies, trying to separate snake oil from science. Mr. Singh, his co-author, is a science journalist whose books include “Fermat’s Enigma” and “Big Bang.” Together they conclude, after cataloging the evidence, that most of the popular forms of alternative medicine are “a throwback to the dark ages.” Too many alternative practitioners, they say, are “uninterested in determining the safety and efficacy of their interventions.”


The Big Bang is Science. Transcendent Sex is Not.

Posted in Memoirs of a Skepchick by Skepdude on July 20, 2008


No GravatarVia Fark, I stumbled across this ridiculous article from some vacant sex columnist for Fox News. And before I go any further, could there possibly be a less appealing job than sex columist for Fox News? I mean, god forbid if she should mention condoms, or abortion, or anything kinkier than doggy style.

Okay, anyway, Yvonne K. Fullbright is a very good example of the basic fact that having a lot of schooling does not necessarily make a person an intelligent critical thinker. Wikipedia says she “has a Ph.D. from New York University, a Master’s in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Penn State University.” Despite that impressive (and probably quite pricey) education, Fullbright recently wrote a piece on Huffington Post buying into the ridiculous media-created fear-mongering about the HPV vaccine (here’s a good rebuttal Jen linked to in the Quickies a while back).

Fullbright doesn’t stop there, though — a few days ago she promoted a completely made-up paranormal sex myth called “transcendent sex” that appears to be the invention of a woman named Dr. Jenny Wade, who just so happens to be selling a book on the topic. Ta-da! Let’s look at this fine piece of journalism a little more closely, shall we? What follows is a line-by-line breakdown of how to be a bad journalist.

Some people actually supersede the state of climax and reach a state of transcendent sex.

“Some people” is a fun trick to use when you have no actual evidence to support your premise. “Some people say that Yvonne Fullbright eats the souls of orphan children!” See? It’s easy and fun.

Such lovemaking is said to involve a divine force, and is regarded as a path to a higher consciousness. It has been known to change one’s views on sex and spirituality.

Fun Size Snicker Brains

Fun Size Snicker Brains

“Is said” and “has been known” is another trick like “some people” to help you when you’re making stuff up. That’s why “some people” consider use of the passive voice to be shoddy journalism — you’re hiding the person or thing doing the action, which the reader needs in order to figure out whether you’re full of crap or not. Like this: “It is said that Yvonne Fullbright has dozens of Fun Size Snickers bars where most people keep a brain.”

Yet this mystical, spiritual sexual experience is one of the best kept sex secrets around.

(Because it does not exist.)

Why isn’t it well-known? Recognized by the likes of Deepak Chopra, such meaningful experiences are nothing new.

Deepak Chopra recognizes it? Why, that’s fantastic! If only Paris Hilton would appear on Oprah to talk about it, then we’d have all the greatest minds of science together in agreement that transcendent sex is a Fact.

Lovers have had them since ancient times.

I saw it painted on a cave wall once.

Still, people who have experienced them are afraid of being called crazy or getting mocked.

Mocked, or properly medicated. Whichever.

You can’t really blame them. Many would find it far-fetched to hear that their friend, brother or co-worker was transported to another realm during sex last night.

Far-fetched? “Many would find it far-fetched” to hear about their brother’s supernatural orgasm? So you’re sitting around Christmas dinner with your extended family, and during a lull in the conversation your brother grins sheepishly, holds his wife’s hand, and announces, “Last night Hillary and I made sweet sweet intercourse, and when I orgasmed I felt my soul leave my body and travel across the Universe to bond with an energy source that had evolved beyond what any of us could possibly imagine. Eventually my soul returned to my body, which was by then covered in ejaculate and tears. Pass the cranberry sauce, please?” Yes. “Far-fetched” is the first adjective that would spring to my mind.

The closest I’ve ever come to such a spontaneous, divine experience involved my life-force energy shooting up from the base of my spine during an orgasm. It happened when I was with my ex-lover and I found myself blissfully lost in a purplish-turned-white light that went beyond my body. The feelings were beyond description. Saying it was amazing doesn’t do it justice. But from what I understand, my story can be trumped by even more ecstatic experiences.

Eta Carinae Nebula

Hi, that’s called an intense orgasm combined with made-up words that mean nothing, like “life-force energy.” One time I came so hard I saw the Eta Carinae Nebula. Yeah, that’s right. My astrophysical sex story trumps your transcendent sex story. Win.

People who have been swept into transcendent ecstasy, according to developmental psychologist Dr. Jenny Wade, have reported: — Seeing visions; — Feeling heat, light and energy waves throughout the body;

Okay, I’m with you so far . . .

— Reliving past lives;

Whoooa there. Once again, let’s turn to the Hypothetical Situation Generator to see how this sort of thing might play out in real life: You’re in bed with your loved one, who you have just sent to sexytown. He’s yelling, “Oh god. Oh god! OH . . . Zeus?” Then he demands (in Greek) that you bring him a few succulent slave boys to continue pleasuring him. Scary!

— Seeing the face of God;

Which one?

— Paranormal powers;

Which ones? Who? Where? Is this how Sylvia Browne got her powers?

— Being visited by gods;

Not the capital-G God from before?

— Feeling possessed by spirits;

Sexy spirits.

— Working with natural forces;

I’ve read that sentence fragment seven times and I still have no idea what it means, even in a stupid paranormal sense. Can anyone help me here? I don’t even know how to further mock this, it’s that incoherent.

— Nothingness, whiteness, pure bliss; — One with everything – there is no “me” or time; — A lack of sensory channels;

Is that last one supposed to mean a lack of sensory input? Right. That’s called an orgasm. Good work, Sex Detective.

— Time travel;

I see a promising premise for Back to the Future IV.

— Enlightenment.

I’m skeptical that one can achieve enlightenment just by having an orgasm, but I am willing to keep testing this scientifically for the rest of my life. Can you believe there are still six stupid, pointless paragraphs left to this article? Ugh.

What invites transcendent sex? While many equate it to a religious experience, you don’t need to be a person of faith to experience the sacred, transformational power of sex. You don’t need to be a Tantric practitioner or be specially trained in sexuality or transcendent sex. You don’t need to be striving for orgasm. You don’t necessarily have to be making love.

Wow, so for all that talk about transcendent sex, you don’t actually have to be having sex, and it can even happen to atheists. I could just be walking down the street and BAM, crazy paranormal orgasm. I am now terrified of achieving this magical thing in a really inappropriate place, like a job interview or tea with someone’s grandmother.

It can happen to anyone at anytime. It does not involve drug use. It should be pointed out, though, that while people have had transcendent episodes during casual sexual liaisons, these intense events tend to be triggered in a more loving context. Wade estimates that as many as one in eight individuals has had a transcendent episode.

Oh good, a real scientific estimate that I’m sure comes from a real scientific study. One in eight! Fabulous! So, Skepchick gets about 5,000 readers a day, which means that about 625 of you have had transcendent orgams. THAT means that at least a few of you have paranormal powers you got through sex, and at least a few of you have “worked with natural forces,” so you should definitely be able to explain that one to me.

While this path to soulful realization seems too good to be true, experts in this area warn that there are hazards. Individuals have reported being overwhelmed by intimacy or seeking out dangerous liaisons in desiring more.

Dirty Sex Gnome

Oh noes! It’s not all orgasms and bonding with life energies, say “experts.” Who are these experts? Fullbright refuses to reveal her sources, but I have my suspicions (gnomes).

In being transported to this altered, super-dreamlike state, know that things may be nonsensical. You will likely lose all sense of reality. You may not recognize your lover or feel like yourself. The experience can be destabilizing. You may be sick afterward from the intensity.

Oh my god, Yvonne K. Fullbright is having a transcendent orgasm RIGHT NOW!

Despite its potential drawbacks, the healing, profound impact of transcendent sex has the potential for long-term effects. It can result in releasing shame and guilt around sex. It can help one to heal from sexual trauma and abuse. It can lead to a healthier life. If you’re interested in learning more, Wade’s “Transcendent Sex” promises cautious guidance on this spiritual awakening. I don’t know about you, but I plan to check it out.

You plan to check it out? What? This entire article was written based upon the stupidity tumbling out of one woman’s imagination, and you haven’t even actually read that woman’s book? Seriously, how can a person go through so many years of education and yet learn so little? It’s amazing, really, in a very sad way. My conclusion: screw (figuratively) Yvonne K. Fullbright. If you want to read an intelligent, skeptical sex columnist, it’s best to stick with Dan Savage.