Skeptic Fails and Wins this Week

Scott saw this disappointing article about Andrew Wakefield. The article completely glosses Wakefield’s many ethical infractions and defends him as a victim of a “big pharma” smear campaign. Wakefield’s defenders all have a short memory. They fail to remember that he himself worked for “big pharma” and patented his own measles vaccine that he intended to sell as a “safer” alternative to the exististing MMR vaccine. Connie Howard’s article paints Wakefield as a martyr, saying “His career and reputation have been severely harmed as a result of putting his patients ahead of his own protection”. Sorry Connie, you fail!

Ian spotted a win on this Family Guy episode. Lois consults a psychic, who Brian mocks and then teaches Peter how to do a cold reading. This convinces Peter he has psychic powers. I couldn’t find that scene, but I found this clip. It’s silly, but it’s actually a good representation of the type of win-win predictions psychics often set up.

Roland spotted this story in the Edmonton Sun about a ghost auction. Not really sure what to call this one; you just have to read it.

Darin saw this one-sided story in the Waterloo Chronicle about fluoridation. Darin mentioned in his email that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the addition of fluoride to drinking water as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century, and yet you’d never know the benefits after reading this article.
Parrot spotted this win on the Daily Planet. You may remember the credulous reporting on the “facilitated communication” of Rom Houben, a Belgian man in a coma. The Daily Planet thoroughly debunks the practice…it’s worth watching.

Scott sent in this mega-fail in the Vancouver Observer. It’s yet another homeopathy advertisement dressed up like a journalistic article. I’m sick of writing about these stories every week. The article also mentions crainiosacral therapy which I had never heard of before. After reading the Wikipedia article on the subject, I was still confused about what it actually is. Luckily, I found this YouTube video which explains that it’s basically practiced by squeezing the patient’s head in order to align the pieces of your skull. I’m practicing it right now by connecting my palm to my face.

Now my head hurts.

Anyways, that’s the fails and wins for this week! I hope you all remembered to change your clocks. See you again next Sunday, and keep those links coming to skepticnorthlinks [at] gmail [dot] com.

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  • Melany Hamill

    Melany proudly uses the titles of both geek and nerd. As a science-enthusiast and fan of debate, Melany likes to get her facts straight. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Since then her career path has meandered to its current spot as a project manager at a video game studio. Melany lives near beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She is not seeking treatment for her caffeine addiction.