Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello Skeptifans. I hope you all remembered to change your clocks.  That is, if you have any of those old fashioned clocks that don’t change themselves.  Or if you live in Saskatchewan, and don’t ever have to change your clocks.  Or if you are like me and too lazy to change the microwave clock and figure you’ll just remember to subtract an hour and continue on like that for months until one day that causes you to show up an hour early to something and you finally break down and do it.  Anyways, here’s the Fails and Wins you sent me this week.

The Burger Lab: Revisiting the Myth of The 12-Year Old McDonald’s Burger That Just Won’t Rot
Mitchell found this win. The Serious Eats food blog takes on the myth that McDonald’s food doesn’t rot, with interesting results!

Should cell phones have warning labels?
Lorne and Jenn both found this Fail. An Ontario MPP is asking for warning labels on cell phones that would inform consumers about the (unfounded) risks of radiation exposure. The labels would also have to show the levels of radiation that particular phone emits so that, presumably, consumers could compare phones they way they compare food products with calorie labels. While the article does point out that Health Canada has found no evidence cell phones pose any danger, most of the article spews credulous fear. There is some quotes from “expert” Magda Havas, an old friend to this blog, claiming that cell phone radiation causes problems like headaches and anxiety. How ironic. Those are the same symptoms I get from reading about Magda Havas.

Parents mount backlash to vaccine increases
Anna sent in this Fail from parenting site Parent Central. The beginning of the article spends a lot of time reinforcing some of the standard fears around vaccines. It’s a Fail for suggesting that these fears are warranted, and hinting that the risk v. reward ratio for vaccination is very different than it is in reality. However, the article isn’t totally one-sided. It does go on to talk about some of the serious, vaccine-preventable diseases that doctors are dealing with, like Polio and whooping cough. It reiterates that according to the numbers, the risks associated with vaccines are greatly outweighed by the success. So perhaps the author was using fear tactics to get people to read through to the facts, and it’s really a Win. What do you think?

District says Wi-Fi in city schools is safe
David found this story on the cover of Burnaby Now newspaper. It seems that the wi-fi in schools scare has spread west and is now being debated in the Burnaby school district. Incidentally, this is where I live. Much of the article seems to be taken right from text written by the “The Health Action Network Society”, a “non-profit group promoting alternative medicine and natural health”. I took a look at their website, and I have to say, this may be the anti-skepticnorth. Like, if somehow our sites somehow met there would be a matter / antimatter explosion of pure energy on the internet. Looks like this is a group we’ll have to keep an eye on.

‘Weeping’ Virgin Mary statue draws hundreds of worshippers to Windsor residence
Dianne found this interesting story. A Windsor family has a weeping Mary on their front lawn. Apparently the statue weeps at night time (could it be condensation maybe?), and it has drawn hundreds of visitors. Even more miraculous, is that the owner claims the statue produces healing oil, and one person credits the oil with curing their leukemia. This story is definitely a Fail. The article certainly does nothing to dispute these claims by pointing out the countless crying statue stories that have been debunked over the years. The city has asked that the statue be removed, since the owners did not have a permit to build the structure that is supporting it. Is anyone in the Windsor area up for a field trip?

Well folks, that’s the Fails and Wins this week. Thanks for your links! Keep them coming to 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.