Archive for December, 2009

Skeptics with a K: Episode #012

Mike looks back at some of the unused stories we recorded for Skeptics with a K this year. Featuring the LHC Sabotaging itself from the future, Guy the Space Clown and the film which claims homeopathy can cure autism.

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Jessica Simpson: Ear-Candling So YOU Don’t Have To!

As regular, sporadic or even accidental listeners to our podcast might know, our very own Mike recently discovered ear candles lurking in the murky, unforgiving depths of Chester town centre. Dragged away from the peddler of this particular brand of dangerous crazy before he’d had a chance to a) ask why ear candles are on sale when they’re proven to be ineffective and ludicrously dangerous and b) stop  the stupid burning his brain, Mike was left with only one option – rant about it on Skeptics With A K. I suspect being on the show is actually far more beneficial to Mike’s mental health than it is to our listeners’ entertainment levels.

Still, it got me wondering – how many people actually know anything about ear candles? How many people know what they are, what they’re meant to do, what they actually do, and why they’re crazy crazy crazy? Canvassing opinion around colleagues and friends, it seemed to my (entirely un-scientifically-small) survey that the number of people who’d even heard of them was pretty low, and amongst those it was a mixed response on whether ear candles are any good or not. Which is a bit disturbing, because – as I mentioned – they’re actually crazy crazy crazy. So I found myself trying to explain to these lovely folk what an ear candle is, and the potential for harm that it can do. ‘If only’, thought I at the time, ‘I had some kind of video where a well-known yet annoying-enough-not-to-mind-seeing-them-in-discomfort celebrity had filmed themselves using an ear candle, so I could show people how woo this crap really is (and how crap this woo really is), and they could be in equal parts informed and grossed-out’.

Well, this is Christmas after all – the time of the year that wishes really do come true. They do. Ask anyone that’s been on Noel’s Christmas Presents and they’ll tell you. Oh, plus I can tell you they do, because lo and indeed behold what the intertubes have presented us with:

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The Aids Denialist And The Homeopath

Associated Press writes:

“South Africa’s former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who gained notoriety for her dogged promotion of lemons, garlic and olive oil to treat AIDS, has died. She was 69.” - Source: AP

This woman leaves a mixed legacy. Despite being applauded for driving reform to get basic healthcare out to rural townships and her involvement in global anti-tobacco actions, she also was derided for her attitudes toward HIV/AIDS.

She denied the link between HIV and AIDS also resisting the use of antiretrovirals, famously culminating in the following quote at a 2005 media conference

“All I am bombarded about is antiretrovirals, antiretrovirals. There are other things we can be assisted in doing to respond to HIV/AIDS in this country.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Amazing Easily-Identifyable-Flying-Objects Of 2009

2010 is almost upon us, and it’s around about this time of the year that people start doing niche retrospectives of the year. Top 10 twitterers of 2009. 15 of the best political balls-ups of the year. 2009 in animal dentistry: a retrospective. That kind of thing. Well, I never claimed to be particularly original, just as The Sun hasn’t ever claimed to be conduct truthful reporting of the story. With this in mind, and the end of the year fast approaching, I give you your-super-soaraway-whopping-Sun’s ‘Amazing UFO pics of 2009‘.

As anyone who keeps their eyes to the skies – or, more likely, to the news and the skeptical blogosphere – might imagine, this bumper UFO-tastic article follows on not only from the recent strange spirals over Norway (which turned out to be a stray Russian missile, rather than a stray alien emissary) but also from the news that the Ministry of Defense has latterly closed the UFO-hotline. I know recent Righteous Indignation guest Nick Pope was particularly interested in that latter story, which you can hear over on the RI Podcast site. Feel free to have a listen, I’ll wait if you like.

Actually, that’s a lie – I won’t wait at all: if the MoD have decreed alien sightings too unimportant to report to them, I best crack on through the story before the MoD’s lack of interest inevitably trickles down to your alien-believer on the street, and the whole UFO story goes cold. That’s how it works, right? Read the rest of this entry »

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Bigfoot On Tour

It’s winter and as we all know, birds migrate south to avoid the harsh winter months. Which, as a complete aside, has always left me wondering if people in those more southern climes tend to believe that birds migrate north for summer, to avoid the harsh summer months. But that’s not really important right now. Back to skepticism. Well, it seems birds aren’t the only creatures migrating, or at least holidaying, at the moment – apparently Bigfoot is also having something of a jaunt, having been recorded in the woods of Minnesota, far from his alleged home Pacific Northwest.

The image in question was shot by Minnesota hunter Tim Kedrowski, who claims he was ‘super skeptical’ of the Sasquatch before he accidentally caught the mythical creature on his motion-activated camera. Interesting that Tim was ‘super skeptical’ – regular skeptical would have been enough for me. But then again I’ve never taken photographs of mythical creatures. Neither, I’d wager, has Tim… who’s image of a 7-foot-tall, black creature is eerily reminiscent of a man in a suit pretending to be Bigfoot. Go figure. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skeptics with a K: Episode #011

Christmas Special! The guys take a skeptical look at the traditional nativity story. Plus interdimensional portals over Norway, two full moons in the sky in January and your crazy homeopathic remedies.

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