Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello Skeptifans. Were any of you hoopy froods celebrating Towel Day last week? My attempts at mixing a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster were not very successful.

How Your Cell Phone Is Killing Bees And Starving The Planet
My cellphone is starving the planet! That sounds serious! This story appeared on several news sites citing a new study showing a link between cellphones and bees leaving their hives and dying. Or does it? Actually, this was a pilot study, and didn’t talk about bees dying at all! Skeptical science blogger Bug Girl does a better job than I can at examining the study, I suggest you check out her writeup. And as far as your cellphone killing the planet? Well, as Douglas Adams would say, don’t panic.

Think yourself better
Erik sent in this story. Despite the title, it’s a Win. In the UK, the world’s first professor of complementary medicine stepped down from his post. After years of study of things like homeopathy and acupuncture, his research has shown that most alternative medicine provides no benefit beyond the placebo effect. The article goes on to discuss the placebo effect in detail, and how it can be useful as a treatment.

Passionate Perks needs to take a dispassionate look at Toronto’s sewage treatment
There is a debate going on about what to do with Toronto’s waste-water. After spending money on environmental testing and getting recommendations from experts in the field, what does the councilor Perks want to do? Ignore those recommendations and spend a lot more money on a treatment system that doesn’t use chlorine to disinfect the water supply. Environmental issues are tough. There are no perfect solutions. The city staff and consultants may have provided the best proposal that would be the cheapest solution to meet current environmental standards. But are those standards tough enough? If Counselor Perks provided opposing recommendations from other experts, that would be compelling. But using himself as an expert, just because he is an environmental advocate, doesn’t cut it.

That’s the Fails and Wins this week, folks! See you next week. Send me your stories 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.