Skeptical Thoughts

June 2018

Here are the topics I chose to talk about on RadioLive for the month. Some of them may not have been mentioned on the radio due to a lack of time.

  • June 24, 2018

  • Government hoping to scrap blasphemy law

    You may ask what blasphemy has to do with skepticism - often I've talked with people about the intersection of skepticism and religious belief. I feel that religion should never be above skeptical scrutiny. A common question asked of the Skeptics Society is whether someone can be both an atheist and a skeptic - I always say that yes, someone can be both, but that I believe it requires the person to avoid shining a skeptical light on their belief. Skeptics usually stand by the idea that nothing is above questioning, and so a skeptic who isn't willing to scrutinise their religious beliefs seems to be a strange case to me. We should have no sacred cows.

    5 min read, 889 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Religion , Tags: Blasphemy

  • Is hot dog water good for you?

    In Canada, a man has been selling bottles of medicinal hot dog water for $38. The organic beef hot dogs were boiled before being added to unfiltered water and poured into a vial shaped like a test tube. The seller, Douglas Bevans, said that the water would:

    2 min read, 286 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Pseudoscience , Tags: CAM, Scam

  • Cannabis Oil for cancer, again...

    The NZ Herald has published a story about a woman whose terminal cancer was cured after she took cannabis oil. Of course, there's more to this story - isn't there always. In this case, the woman used both cannabis oil and chemotherapy to fight her cancer - no prizes for guessing which of those two will have helped her more. It also turns out that cancer was only "terminal" if the woman had not received any treatment. This is not what is normally considered to be a diagnosis of terminal cancer - terminal usually means that the cancer is not treatable with medicine, not that the cancer is not treatable without medicine.

    1 min read, 115 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Pseudoscience , Tags: Cannabis, CAM

  • LED lights are apparently not safe for us

    It seems that every new advance in technology is accompanied by people who are willing to warn the world of made up dangers. Anti-vaccine advocates have been around since the beginning of vaccine use over a hundred years ago. People have warned others about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, GM foods and the LHC - all of which have a very low risk profile, and confer major benefits to society.

    3 min read, 594 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Pseudoscience , Tags: LED, Light, Danger

  • June 10, 2018

  • Dr Oz promoting Astrology

    Dr Oz is up to his usual nonsense, promoting an author who claims that astrology can predict your health. Rebecca Gordon believes that the Vitruvian Man may hold the key to how the signs of the zodiac map to parts of our body and indicate health issues, and has a new book: "Your Body and the Stars: The Zodiac As Your Wellness Guide".

    2 min read, 382 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Pseudoscience , Tags: Astrology

  • NHS defends its decision to dump homeopathy

    The NHS recently decided to stop funding homeopathy. Until recently, taxpayers' money was used in the UK to fund homeopathic hospitals (in London, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and Tunbridge Wells) and prescriptions for homeopathy. In part of a suite of changes in an effort to avoid paying for ineffective treatments (including herbal remedies and fish oil), the NHS decided to stop paying money for these pseudoscientific medicines that don't work.

    2 min read, 213 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Pseudoscience , Tags: Homeopathy, NHS, CAM

  • Shakti Mat

    Breakfast on 1 recently hosted a physiotherapist advertising the Shakti Mat - a yoga mat covered in plastic circles, with each circle consisting of 20 or more sharp spikes. The mat is supposed to work like a bed of nails, activating acupressure points. I've seen the mat sold at shows such as the Go Green Expo, and have stood on one - the points are really sharp, and without socks it was especially painful.

    2 min read, 248 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Pseudoscience , Tags: Shakti, CAM

  • NZ Doctor complains to ASA about weet-bix

    It's always good to see people who aren't known to me in the skeptical community making complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Dr Holmes complained to the ASA recently about a Sanitarium Weet-Bix advert for their new gluten free product. In the advert a woman says:

    2 min read, 228 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Complaint , Tags: ASA, Weetbix