Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello skeptifans. I hope you are all enjoying the summer. Here are the Fails and Wins in the media last week.

Baba Brinkman performing

Paying Homage to Darwin in an Unconventional Format: Rap
The New York Times had a great writeup on Baba Brinkman’s show, The Rap Guide to Evolution. Vancouver skepticampers were treated to a fantastic performance from Baba last year. It’s great to see that his form of skeptical entertainment has brought him success. Thanks to Michael for sending in the story.

My five-month old won’t sleep. Is Gripe water okay?
Erik sent in this Fail from the Globe and Mail’s “Ask an Expert” health questions section. While the pediatrician offers up some advice on putting your baby to sleep, he also recommends gripe water, homeopathy, and pro-biotic drops. While I haven’t seen any evidence that gripe water is dangerous, there also isn’t much showing that it works. And homeopathy being recommended by a pediatrician? Gah!

Canadian dies after controversial MS procedure
Liberation therapy has been a big subject in the Fails and Wins. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is an operation to clear the veins of people with MS, based on the unproven assumption that the disease is cause by blockages in these veins. MS sufferers have been flocking to clinics around the world that perform the procedure, spending thousands of dollars, with many returning home with health complications. A clinic in California has been holding seminars encouraging people to get the procedure. One Canadian who did so has now died after the procedure. The Canadian government had originally rejected plans to conduct clinical trials for the procedure, but after public outcry they are moving forward. This flies in the face of the evidence, which has not been promising, and it means taking money away from more promising trials. Thanks to Paul for sending in the story.

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

3 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. DaveGeek says:

    Hi Mel,

    Gripe water used to be effective as a sleep aid mainly because it used booze. That’s no longer the case really (in Canada at least). The herbal ingredients are all of a sort noted to soothe upset stomachs/deal with gassiness etc. So it probably would help a baby sleep if stomach stuff is the issue but otherwise not that much now that its gone all straight edge.


  • 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.