Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello skeptifans. Here are the Fails and Wins in the media last week.

Practicing qigong. Getting a nice workout, or aligning your magical fields?

Children’s book too hot for U.S. publishers warmly received in Canada
Canadian author and skeptic Daniel Loxton wrote a children’s book about evolution. Apparently, that’s too controversial for American publishers. Luckily here in Canada the book has been well received. This is a nice article on the book as well as Loxton’s skeptical philosophy.

Doctors slam alternative medicine proposal
Doctors in Ontario are speaking out against proposed guidelines by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario that address using alternative medicine consultation with conventional treatments. Skeptic North’s Michael Kruse covered the story here. These guidelines fail right from the title with the use of the term “allopathic”. That is a loaded word. It originates from homeopathy as a way to describe conventional medicine, and is usually used in a negative way. It’s a woo word that suggests there is some magical divide between conventional medicine and natural or alternative medicine, when really the only divide we should be concerned about is the divide between treatments backed up by solid evidence, and those that are not.

Pilot project for medical students could herald rebirth of osteopathy

Several Canadians are attending class at Michigan State University to learn Osteopathy, a practice that involves joint manipulation. The practice has very little evidence to support it, except for a some studies that show it may address lower back pain. It is similar to chiropractic techniques. This article goes on and on singing the praises of ostopathy without ever mentioning the lack of evidence behind it’s primary principles. Nothing but woovertising.

Tapping into self healing with qigong
Speaking of woovertising, the Vancouver Sun ran this piece on qigong. Of course no evidence was presented, except an anecdote. The claims of qigong are similar to those of many yoga practitioners, it can align your energies and help your body heal itself and so on. Listen, exercise is good for you and the health benefits from exercising regularly cannot be understated. Qigong looks like a nice low-impact workout from what I can tell. But let’s call it what it is, and not pretend that you should stop visiting your doctor and throw out all your medication because once your qi is aligned you’ll be immune to illness.

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

One Response to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. I spent 3 weeks in Beijing and the surrounding areas as 2009 ended and 2010 began. At lunch time in many parks, even in -10 to -15 C temperatures, individuals or groups of people were practising some form of tai chi type movements. As I don’t speak Mandarin, I was unable to question them whether their motivations were phy6sical or spiritual.
    It was also very common to see groups of people, from children to middle aged kicking a hacky-sack. Perhaps the bean bags were filled with qi, thus balancing them with the universe. I know they had a better relationship with gravity than I would.


  • 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.