Skeptic Fails and Wins This Week

The Pure Cure: 8 New Ways to Detox
Lisa found this fail in Marie Claire magazine (also linked on The woo is bursting from the seams in this one. Let’s start with the title and the concept of “detoxing”. Most alternative medicine proponents will define a detox or a cleanse as a process that rids your body of toxins. You will be hard pressed to find anyone willing to tell you what these toxins are, but according to alt-med practitioners they are just bad. This article recommends everything from accupuncture to ayerveda to salt caves, with a long list of issues that these treatments will address. No evidence is provided for any of these treatments. The closest thing to an expert endorsement is a vague quote from a “wellness guru” whose only stated qualifications are that she has worked with Madonna and Uma Thurman.  The Fail is strong in this one.

Jedi Kitteh

What ‘clinically proven’ means for a beauty product
The National Post ran this excellent story picking apart claims by the manufacturers of Inneov Sun Sensitivity.  This product is a supplement that is supposed to “to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays while leaving you with a nice tan”.  The articles author, Frederik Joelving, does a fantastic job breaking down their claims into the facts.  He takes us through the scientific process, explaining clinical trials, the placebo effect, proper double blind methodology, and the importance of disclosing  potential biases when publishing research.  While the article dissects the claims of just one product, it also gives readers a tool kit for evaluating these types of claims for any health and beauty product.  This one definitely gets a big “Win” stamp of approval.

I’m a normal person’: mother celebrates controversial MS treatment
Yet another story on a new controversial treatment for MS, that has not yet been approved in Canada.  This story centers around a mother who went to Poland for the treatment.  She was happy she sought the treatment, and is feeling better.  She is part of a petition seeking to have clinical trials run in Canada. So what’s wrong with running a story on one person’s experience?  It’s about context.  Running a story like this, without explaining the placebo effect or the limitations of anecdotal evidence is irresponsible.  Multiple sclerosis is a terrible disease.  Early stories of this treatment seem hopeful, but it’s important not to skip any steps in evaluating it.

That’s all I’ve got for this week.  I’d have more links, but it’s up to you to send them! Seriously. If I don’t get links I cry.  It’s not pretty. You don’t want to see that, do you?  Send the love to links [at] skepticnorth [dot] com

2 Responses to “Skeptic Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. Kelly says:

    No astrologers turn up to Surrey society’s $100,000 challenge

    Read more:

    Maybe earning $100,000 wasn’t in the stars for astrologers Monday in the Lower Mainland.

    A group unhappy with astrologers they believed were preying on superstitious South Asian residents offered $100,000 to any such seer that could answer 10 questions correctly.

    Avtar Gill of the Tarksheel Cultural Society said his group rented a banquet hall in Surrey for the noon hour showdown with the swamis.

    “No astrologers showed up,” said Gill, who wanted to debunk the ability of the so-called gurus, swamis and astrologers to predict the future.

    The catch may have been the $1,000 security deposit required before answering the questions to claim the prize.

    Astrologers say they are able to answer questions based on a person’s janam kundli or astrological birth chart.

    While the swamis failed to show up Monday, there were plenty of people in the Grand Taj Banquet Hall, which can accommodate 300 people.

    “The hall is full,” said Gill.

    The meeting was advertised in local Punjabi newspapers and radio stations such as Red-FM and Sher-e-Punjab.

    Read more:

  2. Great story, Kelly! Definitely a win.


  • 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.