Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello Skeptifans. I’ve got a hefty load of Fails and Wins for you today.

Athabasca Water Review
Marion found this win on CBC’s Edmonton AM show. It’s an interview with a scientist Joseph Rasmussen regarding a review of the impact of the oil sands on Athabasca rivers. There are different opinions out there regarding this impact, but Rasmussen explains that differing opinions and critic of work is just part of the scientific process.

Why you shouldn’t detox like Demi (or eat like Gwyneth)
Greg found this win on MSNBC. There are some really crazy celebrity diets out there. From vinegar shots to maple syrup and cayenne pepper, cleanses and detox regimens have become very popular. Not to mention the very expensive products you can buy (many of which these celebrities are actually selling). This article calls them out for what they are: dangerous.

Homeopathy: A Healthier Way to Treat Depression?
Ready for some woovertising? Aysha found this fail in the Huffington Post. The article starts off by criticizing traditional anti-depression medications and in fact all FDA approved medications. There’s a definite big-pharma conspiracy flavor throughout. While it’s true that for mild or moderate depression, medications have not been shown to be very effective, it’s a pretty big (and paranoid) leap to suggest that pharmaceutical companies are simply ignoring a more effective treatment. But this is exactly the leap that is made. The author, who makes their living selling books on homeopathy, not only claims that homeopathy can provide superior treatment of mental illness, they also claim that mental illness is CAUSED by doctors. Yep, it’s called “Doctor-induced disease”. The article is so chock-full of misleading or down right false claims it’s practically criminal. However, it’s quite comforting to see that there are some skeptics in the comments section.

Avoiding the knife takes effort
Ian found this Fail in the Vancouver Sun. Can you cure your prostate cancer by eating right and exercising? That’s sure what this article makes it sound like. Doctors of course only want to irradiate you and do surgery. What a bunch of quacks they are, only following the evidence! The article goes on with more anecdotes and quotes from alternative medical specialists. Of course it provides absolutely no scientific evidence that changing your diet is an effective way to treat cancer. These types of stories are dangerous, and it’s disgraceful that they wind up over and over again in the news completely unchecked. Even more disgraceful is the sentiment summed up in the title….if you have the discipline, you can cure your own cancer. If you die from it, you weren’t working hard enough.

Pomegranate drink not on Health Canada’s radar
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is going after the popular POM pomegranate juice products for making false claims about health benefits. In Canada, the products are treated as food, and they have not been registered as health supplements. It seems by just not bothering to register, they have flown under the radar. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency can take action against false health claims, so let’s all make sure to contact them and report this and similar products. Lorne found a related story here.

No evidence acupuncture helps stroke patients: study
Lorne found this story in the Globe and Mail. It sounds like a win from the title, but goes on to say,

“…instead of putting the debate to rest, the new study raises more questions about the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy – and exposes how difficult it is to determine whether it helps.”

The article then continues to describe some of the problems researches have when evaluating the efficacy of acupuncture. While it is true that there are difficulties, the article suggests that this leaves a lot of room for acupuncture to be effective. I’m interested to hear what you think.  Would you call this one a Fail or a Win?

Belgium experiments with mystical “full moon” beer
I rarely consider anything to do with beer a Fail, but Dave found this story that is a Fail for sure. A Belgian beer maker claims that the full moon affects the speed and efficacy of the fermentation of their new beer line. You’ll just have to read this one for yourself.

Thanks for all the links! Send me more at links [at] skepticnorth [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.