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Skeptic Summary #210

By The Staff
Posted on: 10/26/2008

Medicinal fakery and trickery, UFOs declassed, miracles, memory lane, Halloweeny goodness and more!

Week ending October 25, 2008 (Vol 5, #38)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick week-in-review guide to the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

Forum Highlights:
Half of U.S. doctors use placebo - Sugar pills linked to the growing cases of ADHD.

Need a prostate? - Latest stem-cell development by the baby-eating, mother-raping heathens.

UK UFO sightings declassified - Now they just need to be de-loonified.

Editor’s Choice: What would it take to prove… - My mortgage being paid off by the end of the week, that’s what.

As a super-extra-special “From the Archives,” we would like to present to you the Skeptic Friends Network forums from October of 2000. Go take a look at where we were eight years ago.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
THE CHAMBER OF THE DAMNED — A site for the season. There are lots of Mystery Doors to inspect, if you dare. Who knows what you will find there? Do you have the nerve to find out? I found this game behind one of the doors and spent a ridiculous amount of time on it. It killed an evening.

Happy Halloween!!!

…when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.
— Isaac Asimov

Chat Highlights:
Sunday: Derek of Skeptiality dropped by. Fixing bugs in the Skepticality Forum Database. iPods, and multitasking at work. Working with biology in the Bible Belt. Atlanta a liberal dot in a conservative Georgia, San Diego a conservative dot in a liberal California. Sarah Palin on the cover of a “Tales from the Crypt.” Watching retirement funds go sown the drain. Birthday party. Trying to get employed as a freelancer in a failing economy is tough. Which country to move to in order to escape depression in the US? And will China take advantage of the situation?

Wednesday: Chat started off in debate this week over politics, but not about the elections. Free markets were first up, and whether or not they actually exist. Then black-market daycare, under-the-table construction, and whether or not the government should legally pursue charlatans and quacks. It became personal when Dave questioned weighing the health of society versus liberty. With the election coming up, Dave shared a great site to track the polls. For the rest of the night, chat was less serious with Braille Fail and some forgotten bands. Also, Gentle Giant performing Knots, and everyone called it a night.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Listen carefully, I shall say this only once

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter #96

Skepticality #87 — A Skeptic for Congress? Interview: Dr. Hal Bidlack

What’s New by Bob Park

Got some skeptic news items? Send them to us, and we’ll think about adding them.

Book of the Week:
The Placebo Effect and Health: Combining Science and Compassionate Care, by W Grant Thompson.

“Since the days when doctors routinely made house calls and sat by the bedside offering comforting words along with medical care, the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly impersonal and superficial. As medical technology and treatment have improved, and time constraints have become more demanding, the beneficial effects of meaningful doctor-patient interactions have too often been overlooked. Nonetheless, objective clinical trials have repeatedly shown that real, measurable benefits to the patient occur through the “placebo effect,” the positive effects of the doctor’s presence and personality plus the patient’s belief in the efficacy of the treatment.

Dr. W. Grant Thompson, a frequent consultant on the design of clinical trials, reviews the history of the placebo effect and the evidence of its benefits to health in this lively, informative, and scientifically rigorous book. He looks at both the planned use of placebos in blind clinical trials and the unplanned placebo effects arising out of the doctor-patient relationship, the passage of time, and the perceptions of the patient. Dr. Thompson emphasizes that placebos in themselves have no intrinsic benefit; what matters is how the treatment is provided and under what circumstances. He argues that understanding the placebo effect is important for the care of the ill, the design of clinical trials, and healthcare policy planning. He contends that we should be using judiciously the best medical evidence, but even that can be undermined by insensitive delivery. Healthcare policy can only gain from taking both vital components of medical care into consideration.

Praised by the New England Journal of Medicine as “a gifted teacher and clinician with a talent for clear exposition,” Dr. Thompson has written an important, accessible, and interesting work that deepens our understanding of both the tangible and intangible factors that affect health. He convincingly demonstrates that patients need the best that science has to offer combined with kind and compassionate care-giving by doctors in order for a treatment to be its most effective.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in! (4,145 views)
  2. Possum on the half shell (642 views)
  3. General Powell does the right thing! (296 views)
  4. Beelzebufo ampinga (228 views)
  5. Constitutional crisis (216 views)
  6. A Half of a Wing & A piece of A Prayer (210 views)
  7. UK UFO sightings declassified (204 views)
  8. Existence (176 views)
  9. Crop circles again… (176 views)
  10. Boycott Mickey D! (172 views)
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (1,477 views)
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two (1,042 views)
  3. Skeptic Summary #152 (137 views)
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (88 views)
  5. Cold Reading (38 views)
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (31 views)
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray (29 views)
  8. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (25 views)
  9. Evolution is a Lie (23 views)
  10. Skeptic Summary #209 (23 views)
There were 8,948 daily visitors this week.

More issues of the Skeptic Summary can be found in our archive.

The Skeptic Summary is produced by the staff of the Skeptic Friends Network, copyright 2008, all rights reserved.

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The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.

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