Archive for August, 2010
Just the other week, I touched on the amazing story of Robin Alexis, the psychic who claims to be able to psychically shoehorn the spirit of Michael Jackson into the unborn foetus of a couple of strangers. You’d think that would be as ridiculous as psychics can get, right?
Well, you’d be entirely wrong. I present to you exhibit A – Lisa Greene, and exhibit B – Ellen Kohn. Both are perfect examples of their trade, and both featured in newspapers in the last couple of weeks. Let’s take Lisa first.
What’s your Pooch Thinking?
Sorry, should have mentioned – Lisa is a pet psychic. Which doesn’t mean she’s a psychic you keep in a cage and feed dead mice to now and then, she’s a psychic who specialises in contacting pets. Which makes me wonder if Newsweek should have changed their title from ‘what’s your pooch thinking’ to ‘what’s our editor thinking?’
“Horses are the most gossipy,” says Lisa Greene, a pet psychic from Houston. “They’ll always tell me everything that’s going on in the barn. Snakes usually have a pretty bizarre sense of humor. And rodents like to spell for me.”
Recently on the schedule: a reading for a whale.
I’d call this whole thing batshit crazy, but Lisa would probably point out that bats are in no way crazy and they actually most love to test her with fiendish logical brainteasers. Read the rest of this entry »
Many readers of this site will be familiar with Joseph Mercola. He’s the shiny-toothed, perma-tanned quack who spat out his dummy in spectacular fashion when people decided Dr Rachie of the Australian Skeptics knew more about genuine health advice than he did, culminating in her Shorty Award win back in March. Full details, including Mercola’s spectacular meltdown, can be found at Skepticsbook.com. (Spoiler: Mercola describes Rachie as ‘Big Pharma’s wet dream’. No comment necessary from me I think).
Mercola is an odd figure, it’s fair to say, and one not above our ridicule, not least for having a website which looks like it’s set up by someone satirising the persona of a snake oil salesman. I mean, his white-toothed grin shines out from every inch of the site, with an expression which screams: ‘I was in an accident which wasn’t my fault, and Shyster & Shyster got me over £10 000 compensation for my imaginary whiplash!’ What’s more, his ‘Meet Dr Mercola’ page is actually titled ‘Why trust me?’. I defy anyone to beat that.
Still, not content with spitting out the dummy at awesome Australians, Mercola also appears to do a sideline in strawmen, as this wonderful cartoon ‘The Town Of Allopath‘ (original story by Mike ‘Health Danger’ Adams) attests. The less I say about it, the less I’ll spoil the surprise (for ‘surprise‘ read ‘mind-boggling, face-palming incomprehension‘) so all I’ll say is that the Youtube blurb inaccurately describes it as:
The video parodies the drug companies and conventional healthcare system and many are furious about the truth being exposed. Hopefully the humour will open some eyes.
Oh, and that Mercola – so enraged at those greedy doctors who keep you ill just so they can make all of their lurid profits – lives in a mansion with a pool and it’s own private island (sourced from public records). Enjoy!
A special episode featuring lost material and outtakes that didn’t make the cut first time around featuring many of your favourite guests.
There are also some show related factoids as well as the full length version of our theme tune, Blues Walk by Lou Donaldson.
Thanks for listening and look out for a rip roaring episode 7
It’s been a little while since the furore over the pro-homeopathy EDMs and David ‘hand in the till’ Tredinnick‘s one-quack crusade to have homeopathy recognised as the greatest thing since succussed bread, but one name that stood out to me on the roll-call of signatories and seconders was that of Luciana Berger MP, and it was a name I couldn’t let lie.
You see, Luciana is MP for Wavertree, Liverpool – not more than a couple of miles from my home, and the constituency in which I’ve spent much of my 9 years in Liverpool. What’s more, Luciana seems to be a pretty reasonable MP – she’s in favour of equal rights for women, equality for those of all sexualities, against all forms of racial discrimination and generally appears to be a fairly-well-informed MP, certainly when compared to Mr Tredinnick, whose EDMs she’s signed.
It struck me that rather than based on ideology, Luciana’s support for Tredinnick’s pet pills might well be a simple case of her not knowing what homeopathy is really about – which is relatively understandable, given the high percentage of the public who think ‘homeopathy’ is just another term for ‘herbal medicine’ and aren’t acquainted with the scientific literature.
Clearly, then, the best approach would be to politely offer to engage over the issues and present the science, rather than berate Luciana with the intensity and single-mindedness we ought to save for those whose belief in homeopathy is blindly ideological (Tredinnick, yes, we mean you). To this end, on the 11th of August I took it upon myself as representative of the 10:23 Campaign and the Merseyside Skeptics Society – a pro-science group with significant numbers in her very constituency – to contact Luciana and offer her our side of the story.
She hasn’t yet responded, which is what has prompted me to share this letter with the MSS readers, to not only convey what I believe to be the best way to engage with those who may not fully understand what homeopathy is, and also to prompt Luciana into the response I sincerely hope she is willing to provide. To reiterate – I don’t believe she deserves abuse, or indeed anger, but wish to simply open the lines of dialogue to put forward the science on homeopathy. Perhaps when given the chance to hear what homeopathy is, and why it’s implausible, the evident common-sense Luciana displays in other policies will win out on the subject of the sugar pills. The full letter is provided below. Read the rest of this entry »
Homeopathy! Again! The Skeptics with a K take a break from the regular show format to talk about the prevalence of homeopathy in English Primary Care Trusts. Plus, the latest information on QED. http://www.qedcon.org/