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Skeptic Summary #316

By The Staff
Posted on: 1/22/2011

Nuttiness, bloviations, animals, silence, UFOs, quacks and more!

Week ending January 22, 2011 (Vol 8, #4)

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:
Am I nuts? - Kil needs a new roommate.

If atheists left america - A propaganda video that could have been better.

Question - Are animals used for testing burn treatments?

Editor’s Choice: An intro to Intelligent Design for skeptics - Our lecturer seems to have left.

From the Archives: Opinions regarding select UFO sightings - Bngbuck joins SFN to talk UFOs.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Welcome to the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices: Video Vault and Miracles in the Dark — I’ve been thinking a whole lot about quackery these days after coming across this this old video, which you should also consider a pick for this week. The video is a public service announcement from the FDA. It’s the sort of warning that TV stations used to air back in the fifties and sixties. They don’t do that anymore and I wish they still did.

My first pick is a video that comes from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis, put together and run by Bob McCoy until May, 2010. What struck me about the video I chose is how little has actually changed since the time that quacks came up with devices like the ones Bob McCoy shows us. Sure, the quacks don’t get to sell radioactive materials to consumers anymore, but they do sell dangerous things, and put people at risk by selling unfounded alternatives to Science Based Medicine.

And while on the subject of quackery, my second pick is Miracles in the Dark, a video by a fellow who posts on youtube using the screen name C0nc0rdance. I am a subscriber. His videos are great and they run the gamut of subjects of concern to skeptics. Here is what he has to say about this particular video:
Behold the miracle that only works in the dark. Miracle cures are popping up on the Internet and in unlicensed clinics. They have the veneer of respectable medicine, but they violate the most powerful principle in our medical arsenal: Evidence based medicine.

What I will believe and not believe is determined by one simple test: Does it stand up to scrutiny by a third party? Can an outside agency get the same result with objective testing?
So there you go. The war against quackery is still raging. I don’t know if we, as skeptics, will ever be able to declare victory against medical quackery, but we have won some battles. We must keep fighting that war because skeptics really are the first line of defense.

But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.
— Mark Twain

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Talk started with Skepticality host Derek’s birthday. Too many people have health-problems, and a visit to the hospital is too expensive. Kil had a song recorded, other chatters were recorded too. Then we talked about the weather, like tornadoes. And earthquakes. Do earthquakes count as weather? New Age conventions, what can they offer besides a cold reading or a date?

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Anatomy of an Activist Stunt

Astronomers Release the Largest Color Image of the Sky Ever Made

Bravo! Homeopathy deconstructed by the CBC

Earth may soon have a second sun

Evolutionary psychology for the masses

Feeling low? Don’t blame Blue Monday

The race to flee Andrew Wakefield

Skepticism and the Supernatural

The Science Hall of Fame

Study: Many college students not learning to think critically

Vatican Told Irish Bishops Not to Report Abuse

What’s New by Bob Park

Why BioLogos — and accommodationism — can’t win

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

Book of the Week:
Quack!: Tales of Medical Fraud from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, by Bob McCoy.

Quack!: Tales Of Medical Fraud From The Museum Of Questionable Medical Devices is an informative and fascinating compendium of quaint, preposterous, and occasionally horrifying medical devices foisted upon the public by calculating charlatans and misguided medical practitioners. Some of these purveyors held the public’s rapt attention for a time (Albert Abrams, who believed that all that was needed from a patient was a drop of blood, a single hair, or a handwriting sample which gave off a ‘vibration’ that could be used for diagnosis and treatment, was promoted by Upton Sinclair in ‘Pearson’s’ magazine), while others were simple snake-oil vintage conmen whose tactics were to ‘hit and run’. Profusely illustrated with photographs of odd medical mechanism, period advertisements, and newspaper clippings of the day, Bob McCoy (curator of the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices) offers a full-spectrum, very highly recommended survey of American medical quackery from the Prostate Gland Warmer to the Recto Rotor, the Nose Straightener to the Wonder Electric Generator.”

— Midwest Book Review

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  2. The Supper
  3. Funny FAILS
  4. Creationist confrontation — in person this time
  5. Am I nuts?
  6. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  7. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  8. I hope these aren’t the first shots in a civil war
  9. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  10. An intro to Intelligent Design for skeptics
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Cold Reading
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Scientific Truth
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray
  7. The PQ Test
  8. On BEING A SKEPTIC You don’t have to be a rocket scientist
  9. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  10. Skeptic Summary #315
There were 8,173 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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