Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hey there skeptifans. Here are the media Fails and Wins you sent me last week.

Does this look tasty to you?

‘Proof’ that homeopathy doesn’t work
Blogger Darwin Harmless sent in this link. It’s a win for reporting that an experiment showed homeopathy did nothing. It’s a fail for putting proof in ironic quotes, and citing a lot of useless anecdotal evidence on the other side of the argument. Until objective proof is valued against personal beliefs, people will continue to waste their money on alternative medicine.

Jane Seymour makes a case for adult vaccination
Lorne sent in this Win. Now, we shouldn’t be looking to actors for medical advice, but people do it. So it’s nice to know that Jane Seymour is raising awareness about getting vaccinated, even if she only played a doctor on tv. The article discusses some of the vaccines that adults should be aware of, and shares some sad statistics about how aware Canadians are on this subject.

What If There Were Rules for Science Journalism?

Anna sent in this Win. What if their were guidelines on for reporting on science? The public interest is at stake when bogus cures are reported as real, statistics are misinterpreted, and false balance is given to “experts” with no real expertise. Wouldn’t it be nice if people expected a standard level of quality from the media, and it was enforced by editors? We can only hope.

Placenta pill service offered for P.E.I.
John spotted this story. A woman in PEI is offering a service to convert your placenta into pills you can take post partum. The idea is that these pills would contain hormones and vitamins to keep you happy and healthy after you give birth. Is there proof that this works? Of course not. But that didn’t stop the CBC from reporting on it.

Did you spot a media Fail or Win? Send it to me at

3 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. GM says:

    Thanks. Link on first topic does not appear to work.

  2. When I was gearing up to give birth, my midwife asked me if there was any last minute stuff I wanted her to keep in mind for my labour. “I’m not eating the placenta,” I said.

    She’d never heard of the practice and thought I was joking until I showed her some websites. Eating the placenta – so crazy that even a midwife who pushes DVDs on having an “orgasmic birth” thinks it’s nuts!

    • Alex says:

      It’s hardly crazy – most mammalian species engage in the practice, including herbivores.

      Not saying I have any interest in consuming placentas, mind you – just pointing out that it’s quite common in the natural world. I’m surprised it’s not MORE common amongst human societies.

      There are “crazy” practices involving the placenta in some societies, but they involve things like performing a funeral for the placenta in the belief that it is a dead twin or that it has a soul, or performing different actions with it because you believe it will magically give the child special abilities (eg. feeding it to ravens so that the child will have “prophetic vision”).


  • 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.