Archive for August, 2009

Homeopathy: Modern Day Snake Oil

August 27, 2009

08-27-09 imageThis blog has been up for nearly a month and I have yet to weigh in on homeopathy (minus a couple of linked videos).  The homeopaths have been quiet as of late.  Or at least they had been at the time I started writing this.  I didn’t finish the post (it’s quite difficult to fit the amount of stupid inherent in homeopathy into one little article) and left town for a few days.  By the time I got back, homeopathy was very much in the public eye.  The World Health Organization came out against the use of homeopathy for treating HIV, TB, and other diseases.  I’ve come across multiple articles and blog posts advocating the efficacy of homeopathy in preventing and treating swine flu.  Oh, and this nutbag was on TV in Australia.  Sadly, the video has been taken down (here’s a transcript of the interview).  I suspect the backlash against the television station that aired the interview led them to file the copyright claim to try and save themselves future embarrassment.  But I’m going to tackle homeopathy anyway.  We’ll briefly explore its history and why its practice is complete and utter idiocy.

In the late 18th century, conventional medical treatment was unquestionably dicey.  Common treatments of the time included bloodletting and purging.  Unsurprisingly in this age of medical ignorance, the treatment was often worse than the disease.  Enter Samuel Hahnemann.

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August Is National Immunization Awareness Month

August 19, 2009

Yeah, I didn’t know either. I wish there’d been a bit more of a PR campaign. Anyway, there was an open letter published today signed by a long list of institutions, doctors, nurses, and other individuals. Give it a read and sign it for yourself.  I’ve reproduced the letter after the jump.

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The Most Important Image Ever Taken

August 18, 2009

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while.  Have you ever really tried to wrap your mind around how big the universe really is?  Most of us probably lack the ability to do that, but this short video should help.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field


An explanation of how the image was taken


The most recent video: Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D

Quack Chiropractic: Addendum

August 18, 2009

Ugh.  This one is painful.  In the comments to yesterday’s post about chiropractic, drlisamarie was kind enough to provide me with a link to an article (the abstract for the original paper can be found here) discussing the apparent benefits of chiropractic adjustment for sufferers of dyslexia and other learning disorders.  While it appears this article was meant as an ‘in your face’ to yours truly, it is little more than another sad example of what passes for evidence in chiropractic.  With apologies to Orac: The stupid.  It burns.

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Quack Chiropractic

August 17, 2009

Can chiropractic really get rid of with [sic] earaches and ear infections?  That was the title to an article posted on an alternative medicine blog last week.  The answer is, of course an emphatic  NO! Unfortunately, the author of the article didn’t consult me (or any credible scientific evidence) prior to submission and went on to answer the question in the affirmative, providing evidence that the title to this post may be redundant.  Oh boy.

I understand that this is just one junk article on one alternative medicine blog.  I don’t even know if it’s a well known alternative medicine blog.  This is more a situation of just one ridiculous claim too many that finally sent me to the keyboard.  Claims like this are, unfortunately, not sparse in the chiropractic community, and I feel like I’ve been coming across them way too often recently.  It is depressingly easy to find a practitioner that will claim to treat ear infections, colic, and asthma.  Look a little harder, and it’s not much more difficult to find individuals who will treat autism, infertility, ADHD, Parkinson’s, etc.  There was a chiropractor in my hometown (population: a paltry 25,000) that publicly asserted he could treat pancreatic cancer.  As you might have guessed, there is absolutely zero credible scientific evidence to back up these claims.

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Discovery Institute Caught Illegally Censoring Free Speech

August 13, 2009

If you’ve been under the impression that the Discovery Institute has any interest in open debate about the legitimacy of their challenges to evolutionary theory, allow me to relieve you of that burden. The DI has been caught illegally censoring free speech that criticized their own dishonest and scientifically illiterate tactics. An individual who posted a critique of an interview given by Casey Luskin, a major DI mouthpiece, on Fox News surprisingly found himself the subject of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint despite the fact that the video did not constitute a violation of the DMCA and, most obviously, the Discovery Institute doesn’t own the copyright to the video! Depending on your familiarity with the DMCA, this may or may not seem like a big deal. However, maliciously filing a false DMCA claim is a federal crime and yet another example of the tactics employed by the Discovery Institute.

This first video is an explanation of what happened.

And here’s the original one that the DI tried to censor.

Faux Outrage From The Discovery Institute

August 13, 2009

“It’s a strange scientific revolution that seeks to establish its position in secondary school curricula before the research itself has been accomplished. But this obvious impediment is removed if the revolution is based on a redefinition of science rather than on new research.”1

America’s favorite Intelligent Design cranks are at it again.  Admittedly, this most recent release from the DI is somewhat tame.  It is, however, just the latest in an incredibly long line of deliberate misinformation being spouted by the leading propagandists of modern creationism (read: Intelligent Design).  Today, they’re unhappy about a paper published by members of the National Center for Science Education.  However, a quick examination of past and current tactics of the Discovery Institute and its predecessors quickly illuminates why those seemingly innocuous words the DI is so up in arms about really are troubling.

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Simon Singh Libel Case Update

August 11, 2009

For my original post on Simon Singh and the BCA, click here.

Lifted from Science-Based Medicine

Legal Update BCA v Singh

Simon Singh announced today that he will continue the fight in his libel case with the British Chiropractic Association after his application to appeal the preliminary ruling was rejected last week. He has now has the option to try and overturn that decision at an oral appeal. If this fails his case will be tried on a meaning of a phrase he did not intend and is indefensible. This highlights the problem of narrow defences that, along with high costs and wide jurisdiction, make the English libel laws so restrictive to free speech.

Simon said today: “I can confirm today that I have applied for a hearing to ask the Court of Appeal to reconsider its recent denial of permission.  A great deal has happened since my original article was published back in April 2008 and I suspect that the libel case will continue for many more months (or maybe years). While my case is ongoing, it continues to raise a whole series of arguably more important issues, particularly the appalling state of English libel laws. I am pleased that the Culture Secretary has agreed to meet with signatories of the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign statement to hear how the laws affect writers. We are also pursuing a meeting at the Ministry of Justice and with front benchers in other departments to lobby for a change in the law.”

Read Simon’s full statement and more about his next steps here: http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/freedebate