Archive for December, 2010

Skeptics with a K: Episode #037

Merry Christmas! (Yeah, yeah we know). Marsh and Colin are on holiday, so Mike presents some snippets cut for time from previous shows. Featuring R2D2′s Dad, Homeopathy in Wavertree, Tatty Raoul and Liberal Jean. Plus, from the archives, our debunking of the Nativity, first published as part of Episode #011.

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Skeptics with a K: The Drinking Game

Skeptics with a K listener Niki M writes:

So, I’ve been catching up on the 36 episodes that are up right now, and I’ve noticed a few trends, enough so that I got this lame brained idea that it would make an interesting drinking game. So, put up your feet, grab your favorite beverage of choice*, and let’s have a go!

As a fan of Withnail and I, I love drinking games. As a teetotaller, I rarely play them. What better compromise than to have a drinking game based around me and my mates? Hurray! So, for your enjoyment, we present Niki M’s Skeptics with a K Drinking Game
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Caption Competition #19

Last week we showed you two stills from our recent live edition of Skeptics With a K and invited you to be witty, as we do. The chosen winner this time round is Nate, who simply stated:

This is why podcasts are audio only.

Who can argue with that?

You may have noticed that it’s Christmas! So, in keeping with the spirit of the season we have a typically Christmassy picture for you. Whilst we have your attention we’d also like to wish you all the best for the new year from all of us here at the MSS. But more importantly…

What should be the caption for the picture below?

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Power Balance Admits No Reasonable Basis For Wristband Claims, Consumers Offered Refunds

Placebo bands - the skeptical alternative to Power Balance

Placebo bands - the skeptical alternative to Power Balance

Not for the first time, we at the MSS would like to offer our congratulations and our genuine awe at the work done by the Australian Skeptics. Not for their tireless work in fighting anti-vaccination in Australia, although this is indeed laudable. Not even for hosting TAM Australia, though the event sounded an overwhelming success, with precisely the kind of ethos and feel we’re trying to achieve with QED (tickets are still available, of course). No, this time our hearty congratulations are for their fight against the ludicrous nonsense that is Power Balance – the little bands of rubber, embedded with a neat little hologram and vibrating with a supposedly-ever-present-yet-oddly-undetectable energy which claims to help this, boost that and increase the other.

Or at least, they used to claim that. As of today the manufacturers will no longer be making those claims, after a ruling proved them to be unsubstantiated. What follows is a press release from the ACCC explaining further, but it’s worth pointing out that without the work of the Australian Skeptics in demonstrating the falsehood of Power Balance’s claims this ruling would never have happened. So, once again – excellent work, guys!

Power Balance Admits No Reasonable Basis For Wristband Claims, Consumers Offered Refunds

Misleading advertising claims about the alleged benefits of Power Balance wristbands and pendants have been withdrawn by the manufacturer after Australian Competition and Consumer Commission intervention.

As a result consumers will be offered a refund if they feel they have been misled and Power Balance has agreed not to supply any more products that are misleadingly labelled.

Power Balance Australia Pty Ltd claimed the wristbands improve balance, strength and flexibility and worked positively with the body’s natural energy field. It also marketed its products with the slogan “Performance Technology”. The ACCC raised concerns that these claims were likely to mislead consumers into believing that Power Balance products have benefits that they do not have. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad PR Prediction: Football, Love and Gambling

You’re all used to me finding a news story and tracking it back to the company who sponsored it, by now, I’m sure. Today I’m feeling a little adventurous, and so instead I’ve written the news story myself, based around surveys I’ve seen lately. This may not come off, but if it does – remember where you heard it first!

One in four British men would rather kiss goodbye to their girlfriend than their teams chances of a cup win.

A recent survey of 1000 UK fellas revealed that a quarter of men put footy above nookie, with more than one in five confessing they’d rather be dumped than have their team be dumped out of the cup.

To make matters worse, almost a third of men would choose football over their partner.

These startling results were revealed after research was carried out by betting exchange company FictionalBetExchangeCompany ahead of the third round of the FA Cup this weekend (8th January 2011).

Stevenage Borough fan Joe Bloggs, whose team of minnows play premier league giants Newcastle United this weekend, said he wasn’t surprised by the findings: “I’ve followed Stevenage all my life, and this weekend is the most exciting weekend of the year for me.

I love my girlfriend, but girls come and go – your team is yours for life. I’d give up sex for a year if it meant that Stevenage won the cup this season.”

Elsewhere in the survey, it was revealed that we’re happier risking our lives on the road than risking a fiver on a flutter. More than 1 in 5 of us avoid crossing the road on a red light, while 1 in 6 of us claimed to avoid gambling. FictionalBetExchangeCompany spokesman Bob Bobson said, “This just goes to show how bad we are at judging risk. People cross the road on red lights on a daily basis, but it’s surprising how many people won’t put five pounds on a football match.

Gambling can be a fun, exciting addition to a sporting event, and with the great rates we offer at FictionalBetExchangeCompany it’s easier than ever to have a little flutter on the big match”

The above, I stress again, is my entirely-made-up account of where I think the survey might go. If you see it in the news, let me know!

For those of you who are curious, here’s the source questions in the survey which inspired me: http://yfrog.com/h4yxsunj and http://yfrog.com/h2vsxfj. Of course, I could be completely wrong – one of the practices of these kinds of stories is to tailor a survey around the result you want (‘footie-mad men prefer cup success to girls‘) and then get the data to back up your conclusion.

However, sometimes the data entirely contradicts what you predicted – so you simply mine that data for interesting angles, and go with that instead. So if you see a ‘loved-up guys would give up the cup for their girl’ story, that counts too… after all, this is PR, and an angle is an angle, so long as the company’s name gets in the papers.

On top of that, there are a couple of hooks which I’ve taken a bit of a gamble on – given the mention of the FA Cup, it would make sense for the story to come out in January, around the time of the FA Cup 3rd round. I picked a Stevenage fan, as they’re the smallest team playing a relatively-big Premiership team that weekend, and so they’re amongst the most newsworthy, especially in a story about the magic of the cup. And I’ve thrown sex in there, for the hell of it.

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Skeptics with a K: Episode #036

Extended bumper episode!  This episode of Skeptics with a K was streamed live over the Internet on Monday 13 December 2010.  Featuring cold fusion, Toys “R” Us, hassidic diets, the Emo Buzz Lightyear, urine injections and the heaviest man in the world.

This episode was sponsored by the QED conference; for more information visit www.qedcon.org.

Mike’s mysterious tweet can be found at: http://bit.ly/eh0z8G

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