Skeptic Fails and Wins This Week

Bee stung woman says onion saved her life
A P.E.I. woman made headlines after she treated her bee-sting with an onion. Yep, that’s what makes the headlines these days! But the story does have a serious twist. She is allergic to bees and when she was stung outside of a grocery store, she told bystanders NOT to call 911 but instead grab her an onion. Using an onion on a bee-sting is an old folk remedy meant to treat the pain of the sting, NOT treat a potentially deadly allergic reaction. This article does mention that doctors recommend that those with bee sting allergies carry an epi-pen, but then it gets a big fat FAIL for presenting this story as “From this one anecdote you can clearly see that you don’t need an expensive epi-pen when you can just use an onion”.  I’m glad Ms. Nichols is ok, but I can’t endorse her advice.  If you are in a life-threatening situation and someone offers to call 911, the correct response is YES PLEASE DO THAT.

Metro Vancouver wholesalers charged with illegally importing animal parts
Scott spotted this story in the Vancouver Sun. It’s not really a fail or a win…..it’s more of a sad. While the story is mainly about how this illegal trade is hurting endangered species, it does give a few lines to a Chinese medicine practitioner who explains (credulously) what some of these animal parts are used to treat.  I would have liked to see at least one line from an expert saying “Oh and by the way this is extra sad because these treatments don’t even work.”

Nestle slapped over probiotic health claims
This is a big win for consumers and skeptics.  Nestle was making claims on one of it’s probiotic products that it would reduce contraction of cold and flu, as well as the number of school absences for children.  For some background on probiotics, check out this article from Science Based Medicine. The US Federal Trade Commission called shenanigans, and has barred Nestle from making these baseless claims.  ”The ruling prevents Nestle from making any claims about the health benefits, performance or efficacy of any probiotic or nutrition drink that it sells unless the claims are supported by solid scientific evidence.”  You gotta love it.

Did you spot something in the news that made your skeptic-sense tingle? Then send it to me at links [at] skepticnorth [dot] com.  Seriously, send me links.  If I don’t get links I cry. Like a baby. It’s really pathetic.

OK, so I’m not actually serious. But I do really like getting links so keep ‘em coming!

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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.