Archive for May, 2010

The Curious Tale Of The Missing Moggy, And The Missing ‘Found’ Moggy

Oliver the Missing Mog

Oliver the Missing Mog

Psychics, eh? Is there anything they can’t do? They can cure/heal/treat/help cancer, use their magic to confirm police reports and wear flat caps with their arses hanging out, and they can contact dead people who never actually existed. They’re a marvellous lot!

But that’s not the full extent of the psychic realm, it seems, as the BBC reported last week:

‘An Indian psychic is helping to search for cat which went missing from a Lincolnshire village. Oliver, a four-year-old tabby and white cat, went missing from Boothby Graffoe in October.

Owner Sue Machen, 56, has paid £1,000 for Hertfordshire-based company Animal Search UK to hunt for the animal.

It has employed psychic Sarita Gupta, who is based in Bangalore, to help in the search, a move which has been criticised by a sceptics’ society’. - Source: BBC

That’s right – we’re dealing psychic pet detectives! Which, to be clear, isn’t a detective who specialises in finding psychic pets (I can’t really see how one could make a full career out of that, really), but instead people who claim to use their psychic powers to detect and locate missing pets. Obviously.

So, what’s the story here? Well, it’s pretty simple - Oliver is a white and grey tabby cat. He has a white stomach and legs, and is tabby down his back and tail. He also has a distinctive black spot on the left side of his pink nose. And he’s missing. His owner Sue Machen, ‘distraught’ (according to the Fail) turned to Animal Search UK to locate him, and – as the newspapers report – they hired Indian mystic, magic woman and general all-round superhero Sarita Gupta to locate said missing moggy. Read the rest of this entry »

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InKredulous: Episode #004

InkredulousEpisode 4 of our satirical comedy podcast. Four rounds of questions on skeptical topics, and four guests answering them.

Your host is Andy Wilson (@InKredulosi) of the Merseyside Skeptics Society

Appearing this month are:

You can contact the show at inkredulous@merseysideskeptics.org.uk, and follow us on twitter @InKredulosi to get the early heads up on who will appear on the next show. As always, thanks for listening.

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Druid, Where’s My Car Crash?

The modern world has given us all manner of road safety initiatives, from speed cameras to road bumps, all the way down to that 70s Green Cross Code advert where Alvin Stardust told some girls they’re out of their tiny minds. Look it up on youtube, I’m not even kidding.

Still, having 70s glam rockers with chipmunk names yelling patronising insults at children isn’t the stupidest method employed in an attempt to promote road safety, given that reports from Austria this week suggested that druids have been working with local road safety authorities in an attempt to mitigate the dangers of accident blackspots.

As the Metro explains:

“Austrian authorities say druids have been so successful in dealing with motorway accident blackspots in one area that they plan to extend the project nationwide.  As well as using quartz standing stones to restore the area’s ‘natural energy’, the druids have come up with a cheaper modern-day option – burying plastic slates with magnets in the ground.

Arch druid Ilmar Tessmann was called in as a last resort after a high number of fatal accidents were reported on a straight stretch of motorway near Salzburg.  He said the crashes were caused by radiation from a nearby mobile phone mast disrupting the area’s normal ‘terrestrial’ radiation.  Installing the monoliths has successfully counteracted that, he claimed.”

The Metro reports that the rate of accidents has decreased from 6 per year, to zero in the 2 years since the druids have been applying their magic. Scientists, surprisingly enough, are somewhat skeptical, with a range of questions springing to mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skeptics with a K: Special #004

Marsh from ‘Skeptics with a K’ calls into BBC Radio Oxford to talk about psychics and psychic healers – including an encounter with “Energy Worker” Adrian Pengelly.

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Skeptics with a K: Episode #022

Mice and the Mail; Voyager and Vista; Foxes and Fleas and; Homeopathy and Healing IBS.

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Quack Focus: The BBC’s ‘Health Focus’ On Homeopathy

Since the beginning of our 10:23 Campaign, it’s become increasingly clear that there are an awful lot of parties out there waging a war on reason with regards to homeopathy – from Homeopathic Dana (so-called because he’s smaller and weaker than Dana International, the transsexual Israeli winner of the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest), spambot and drive-by troll ‘Dr’ Nancy Malik, idiot and BBC favourite Gemma Hoefkens, bowel-botherer Greg ‘Kaizen Clinic’ Wimbourne and all manner of ‘health’ activists peddling Big Pharma paranoia, while also peddling magic. The actions of these people I can actually understand (thought not condone): they sell homeopathy for a living, they have a very vested interest in keeping people in the dark as to what it is and why it’s bullshit. Homeopathy is how they make their name, how they feed their family, and how they milk their loyal and vulnerable supporters. It’s what they do.

However, alongside the honest, up-front, god-fearing quacks and charlatans, we’ve had to fight the homeo-forces on another front: the media. Almost universally, when homeopathy is discussed in the media, they ask a homeopath. At best, they also ask a healthcare professional, or (failing that) me, to represent the other side, while leaning the conversation in the favour of the water-wizard. The homeopath gets the first and last word, and the balance of the debate is very firmly on terra homeo. That’s when they’re not just outright selling homeopathic treatments, or allowing homeopaths to wax lyrical about how ‘it worked for me’ and ‘it can’t be placebo as it works on my baby/animal/etc’. This is the battle ground, and it’s this fight we choose to fight – so be it.

But it still pisses me off when it’s the BBC drinking the homeopathic Kool-Aid.

I mean, I love the BBC – they’re meant to be fair, unbiased by commercial concerns, free to investigate and report, educate and entertain, and all that good stuff. Sure, they may spend a little too much money giving Graham Norton a career, or padding out Saturday night’s with Dr Who and fancy dancing (neither of which I particularly care for), but they’re still ace. Except, when they do this:

The view of the regulatory body for pharmacists, who are consulting their members about how the products are currently marketed, is that people who buy homeopathic products should be advised that they do not work and only have a placebo effect.

But according to homeopaths, the real issue behind the consultation is the threat complementary medicine is posing to the highly lucrative relationship between the drug companies and the Health Service.

Face – meet palm. Read the rest of this entry »

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