Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello Skeptifans. Here’s your Fails and Wins in the media this week.

A Fighting Spirit Won’t Save Your Life
Anna sent in this Win. We often hear that positive thinking can help people recover from disease or injury faster. But there is no evidence that optimism helps at all. This story presents a quick history of the positive thinking movement, and the mental games that convince us there’s something to it.

Council committee votes to end use of fluoride in Calgary’s water

Lorne sent in this story. It looks like the anti-flouride crowd had a victory in Calgary. A council committee vote showed a big majority saying no to flouride.

Victoria citizens’ group advocates for science-based politics
David sent in this story. A Victoria based citizens group called Scientific Victoria has been trying to inject some scientific thinking into local politics. Recently they were involved with banning indoor tanning for people under 18, as well as discussing the safety of wi-fi. Check out for information on this group. And also check out It’s a site about scientists in Canadian civil service.

If only there were a shot against irrational fears
Lorne and Erik both sent in this Win. Even though Andrew Wakefield has been thoroughly discredited, the antivaxers have not stopped pushing the idea that vaccines cause autism. The article points out how this conspiracy theory seems to have taken hold in a highly educated part of the population.

That’s the Fails and Wins this week, folks. See you again next week. Don’t forget to send your links to links[AT]skepticnorth[DOT]com.

5 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. Ian says:

    That Victoria group sounds awesome! But I’m hugely disappointed at CFI Calgary for failing to say one word about the entire fluoride debate.

    • Dean Morrison says:

      Agreed. I sent them a message on FB when the whole thing started, but there was never a call to organize. I feel kinda helpless over here; might be high time to organize a separate skeptical society, or something.

  2. Mike says:

    If only there was a shot against lousy reporting. Anti-vaxxer = Prius driving, organic eating liberals who routinely ridicule creationists? This is your version of a ‘win’? Geez, you think maybe this ‘reporter’ has some personal biases? Is that now the scientific consensus that people who drive hybrids or try to avoid consuming pesticides somehow need to be re-educated? At least she got one thing right in the sense that the Lancet deserves much of the blame for publishing the Wakefield study despite knowing from the start it had serious flaws.

  3. Composer99 says:

    Mike, Margaret Wente is a columnist, and the linked document is an opinion piece (notice how it appears in the sub-category ‘Commentary’).

    If memory serves, however, sites like Science-Based Medicine or Respectul Insolence show the data to support Wente’s contention that the majority of committed anti-vaxxers are educated, affluent, and lean “left” politically.

    Science denialism knows no ideological boundaries (although specific science denialisms tend to cluster in specific ideological spectra).


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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.