Thursday, January 14, 2010

Skeptics Circle #128

Welcome to the 128th edition of the venerable (yes Orac, it is venerable) Skeptics Circle, brought to you from the beautiful continent of Africa once again. (Oh, and, no signs of prawns yet, but I'll let you know)...

First up is the indefatigable David Colquhoun (who I just learned, courtesy of Wikipedia, is an FRS) with a fantastic post on what actually gets taught in a homeopathy course. Disturbing stuff, and admirable work by Colquhoun.

Greg Laden addresses an important and rather touchy subject: the meaning of the term "skeptic" (as opposed to "denialist" and so on). He argues, convincingly I think, that there is an important difference between skepticism as a process (i.e. accepting as true only those propositions for which good evidence is available) and skepticism as a position (e.g. "global warming skeptic").

Angela Butterworth of The Skeptic Detective (full disclosure: she's my fiancĂ©e) has another great piece debunking a chain-mail, this time one that claims canola oil is dangerous. In a surprise development, the chain-mail contains falsehoods...

In solidarity with the libel-troubled Simon Singh, the last time I hosted this carnival I dedicated it to chiropractic. Alas, yet another skeptic is being sued: this time it's Paul Offit, and the culprits are the deplorable anti-vaccinationists. David Gorski has the details over on Science-Based Medicine.

JDC325 of Stuff and Nonsense has a post on Shiv Chopra and Joseph Mercola's idiotic views on vaccines. Apparently, swine and avian flu are hoaxes. Yeah, like gravity and carrots.

True believers keep churning out nonsense acupuncture studies and the mainstream media keeps reporting on them in a lazy, irresponsible manner. Luckily, Red Stick Skeptic on the case.

Karen Stollznow, the Skepbitch herself, takes on one Frank Sumption who claims to have invented a "Ghost Box" that can be used to communicate with ghosts, aliens and whatnot. Karen concludes, appropriately and to no rational person's surprise, that Sumption is a nutjob.

The Skeptical Teacher has a trifecta of posts: winter is not proof of global cooling (for FSM's sake, deniers are stupid), two steps forward and one step back in US science education, and on Deepak Chopra's further decent into craziness. 

Traversing the Razor (lovely blog name, eh?) has chalked up a small victory against quackery, all in the name of a friend recently lost to cancer. Great work. 

Effort Sisyphus is "doing [his] little part to stop the spread of nonsense" (cheers to that), this time round on high fructose corn syrup. The stuff isn't nearly as bad as headline writers and lazy reporters would have you believe...

Andrew over at The Evolving Mind has two pieces in this edition of the carnival: bad psychological science on 'serious emotional disorders' and woo in a retailer's magazine

Last, and quite possibly least, a couple of (somewhat older) posts from yours truly... First, I report on the recent increased incidence of measles in South Africa, likely due to anti-vaccination bollocks. Second, I reveal that you - yes you! - have an immune system, which means, among other things, that medical anecdotes are useless.

The 129th edition of the carnival will the Skepvet's responsibility, and it'll arrive on January 28th... Until then, may your bullshit detectors be with you.


  1. Nice roundup, thanks, I can see the Skeptical Hippo appearing more frequently :-)

  2. Thanks Ewan!!

    I didn't know His Skeptical One was so famous... :-)

  3. Canola oil dangerous ... that's the first time i hear that!