Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

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


Police dress up as doctors to test citizens
Dave from North Bay, Ontario sent in this story. Police in Turkey decided to test how gullible citizens would be to a confidence scam. They dressed up as doctors and went door to door claiming to test for blood pressure and giving out pills. A huge percentage of citizens took the pills without question. Burglars in the area had been using this scam to drug people with sedatives and then rob them. Even more shocking was that they also went to apartment buildings, buzzed in and said “I am a burglar”. Incredibly, people buzzed them in without thinking! The police returned after to explain what they had done and warn people to be more careful. I wonder, after the fear that Fukashima radiation hitting the west coast, if burglars could have easily capitalized on similar scams by offering radiation medicine. Scary stuff.

Edmonton schools install wi-fi systems
Normally, this wouldn’t be news. When is the last time your local school’s computer upgrades made the headlines? But lately, it’s hard for schools to install wi-fi due to unwarranted hysteria around it. Well, this story is a win. In Edmonton, this school managed to get it done. As for concerns, officials from the school had this to say, “the board has passed a motion to say we’re going to follow the guidelines set by Health Canada and the WHO.” Nice work, board! And thanks to Fails and Wins regular, Art, for that story.

Inspections of food weights, nutrition claims suspended
Can you trust nutrition labels? It seems that the CFIA is suspending inspections on the accuracy of nutrition labeling for weight and fat content, despite the fact that previous tests showed a lot of shenanigans on the part of food manufacturers. Comments from the CFIA sound like they are devoting their resources to the higher priority issue of food safety, and fair enough, but it’s a shame that there will be less oversight on labeling. We’ll have to look to the private consumer rights groups in the mean time.

Ginseng capsules recalled after Health Canada finds contamination
A line of Ginseng supplements were found to be contaminated with a dangerous bacteria. Stories like this pop up once in a while, and they really make an impact on the “What’s the harm” debate. Now, anything we consume carries a risk of contamination. There is nothing special about natural supplements that make them more risky than other food. (However, they are more risky than pharmaceuticals because there is much less regulation). This type of risk may be low…but if you are measuring it against zero benefit it becomes unacceptable. This article is a win for referring people back to their physician for advice on supplements.

That’s the Fails and Wins this week folks. Tune in next week….same skeptical time, same skeptical channel. And don’t forget to send me your links: links [at] skepticnorth [dot] com.

2 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. Locklin says:

    In keeping with the Skeptical motif, the graphic is a fake:

  2. Nice catch! That’s what I get for using google image search and not fact checking!


  • 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.