Archive for January, 2010

Skeptics with a K: Episode #013

Welcome to 2010. Mike, Marsh and Colin return to talk about Project Pterosaur, EFT, Ear Candling and the Man in the Iron Mask. Also, the latest news from the 10:23 Campaign.

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Boots To Launch Own-Brand ‘Chocolate Teapot’ Range

As part of The 10:23 Campaign, the excellent satirical news site NewsArse.com asked if there was anything we’d like to pen on homeopathy and Boots. Ever the media whore, I duly obliged… full text below. Check out NewsArse.com for more fantastic satirical offerings, too.

The latest edition to the Boots Essentials range

The latest addition to the Boots Essentials range

Boots To Launch Own-Brand ‘Chocolate Teapot’ Range

High-street giants Boots came under scrutiny once more this week after unveiling plans for their own-brand range of teapots crafted from delicious milk chocolate.

The pharmacy – who hit the headlines last month by admitting they sell completely ineffective homeopathic remedies simply because people are willing to buy them – announced the new chocolate teapots as the latest release in their line of alternative crockery.

Boots’ Professional Standards Director Paul Bennett told reporters, “Our strategy is simply, if people are gonna buy this stuff, then we’re damn sure gonna sell it.”

“Its effectiveness as a product is obviously secondary concern when compared to people’s willingness to give us money for it.”

“We’re committed to offering a wide range of choice to our customers, and if anyone chooses to be stupid enough to pay good money for a teapot made of chocolate, then it’s our duty to take that money from them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Panic And Blame – The Daily Mail’s Bread And Butter

Alex Gibson,  friend of the MSS and board member of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, drops in to offer his thoughts on the ‘great big swine flu pandemic scandal conspiracy’ in  the Daily Mail.

Today’s headline: newspaper accuses pharmaceutical companies of manufacturing the panic about the swine flu pandemic to sell more drugs.

This, of course, is the same newspaper that did its best at the time to report the facts and not create panic with articles such as this, this, this and this. I can’t bring myself to look at the articles that the Daily Express was putting out at the time: if the Mail is the malicious kid at school who spread nasty rumours about people, the Express is the gullible, panicky person he talks to first.

The article, in its rush to expose how Big Pharma leaned on the World Health Organisation to get swine flu bumped up to pandemic status, ignores the fact that swine flu met the WHO’s very basic criteria for a pandemic. Like any good conspiracy theory, it starts to unravel when you actually look at the facts. If there was any pressure from some Tamiflu-selling corporate mastermind it was fairly pointless, since swine flu far and away fit the bill for a pandemic anyway. Avian flu didn’t, and neither did SARS – two glitzy media diseases that you’d think would be ripe for making money.

The real spleen-buster is the Mail complaining that in the UK there have been “just 251 deaths overall”. They sound terribly disappointed by this. Poor show, swine flu. There is, of course, no mention of the UK’s excellent free healthcare services and the fact that worldwide about 13,000 people have died, but that’s not even the important bit. Read the rest of this entry »

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2010 – A Psychic Insight (part II)

Following on from yesterday’s look at the psychic predictions of thirteen ‘well-known’ psychics (including Joshua the Psychic – a psychic so well-known he has to use ‘psychic’ in his name), here’s more of the same, taken from boomers-write.com

Taking a look at the Healthcare category, we get our first offering from the delightful Sylvia Browne:

“Browne predicts a “great rise in skin cancer in children in 2010.” She notes that people are aware of the dangers of UV rays and products to protect themselves. She hopes that more attention will be made to this serious issue so her prediction does not come true”

So she’s saying ‘kids will get ill and die, but if it doesn’t happen it’s because we all managed to stop it, not because I’m wrong or because I’m a liar who’s making it all up.’ Nicely played, Browne. Less nicely played is her bizarre prediction for the common cold:

“Browne predicts an end to the common cold and the solution may be heat. Just as a fever is the body’s natural response to fight a cold, she says doctors will put patients in a heated cubicle that also contains a special vapor. Patients will stay in it for five minutes to kill all rhinitis germs. These cubicles will also be used to treat patients with allergies, asthma and other breathing disorders”

This is just patently bonkers – cubicles of heat to cure the common cold? I’m just going to leave that one there, and wait for history to prove her an idiot. Read the rest of this entry »

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2010 – A Psychic Insight (part I)

As any talking calendar will tell you, it’s 2010. The New Year always bring with it the same traditional things – people complaining about how weird it looks to write the date now, and how they keep writing the old date; TV and Radio shows doing lazy ‘lets look back at the year that just passed’ affairs (exactly like I did last week on Righteous Indignation…); and psychic predictions. Guess which of those I’m most interested in?

Correct. I don’t know what it is about the transition from December 31st to January 1st that makes us all look, wide-eyed and wonder-filled, for insights into the upcoming 12 months – after all, when you’re predicting events in the next year, you’d be as well to start on any particular date you fancied. Especially when you’re just making stuff up. Perhaps it’s a little harsh to suggest readers of stars, tarot cards, auras, weird-spirit-guidey-ghosts and tea leaves are just making up their seery-wisdom… so let’s take a look at some of the offerings, and see what 2010 has in store… Read the rest of this entry »

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Of Men and Pterosaurs

So there I was, roaming ‘teh interwebs’ one last time before entering an extended Christmas weekend and going off radar, when I came across a link tweeted by a fellow Skeptic. It referred to something called ‘Project Pterosaur’. Interesting, I thought. I wonder what that’s about? So in the interest of simple human curiosity I clicked on the link.

Oh, and what glories did I behold! This site is the most fantastically bonkers and bewildering woo-stew I have ever seen. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, vacate the Earth or simply join in the fun these people seem to be having.

The main site is something called objectiveministries.org, and it is an ‘educational resource’ for Creation Science. These kinds of sites are everywhere, the most well-known being answersingenesis.org. They’re all attempts to push very skewed versions of reality onto the public under the pretense that science is some kind of ungodly blight that hides the ‘truth’. This site is no exception. The link above takes you to a particular article on the site, detailing the aforementioned Project Pterosaur.

So, what is this project? I’ll let Dr Richard Paley, the leader of the project explain it in his own words:

“The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Furthermore, the rookery facility will establish a breeding colony of pterosaurs in order to produce specimens that could then be put on display by other regional institutions or church groups.”

Yes, you read that right. Project Pterosaur is an expedition to kidnap living pterosaurs – a clade of creatures the fossil record implies hasn’t existed since the cretaceous period – and put them in a special zoo. Presumably with a big sign saying: “Nur nur! Silly Evolutionists!” Read the rest of this entry »

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