Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hey there skeptifans. Here are the Fails and Wins this week.

Herbal remedy used to treat kidney ailments causes kidney ailments

What’s the harm in using untested natural remedies? They may have side effects, and sometimes even cause the thing you’re trying to cure! Birthwort (AKA aristolochia) is an “ancient” treatment for all kinds of ailments, including kidney troubles. But the real trouble is that it can cause serious kidney failure. Just another reminder that natural and safe have nothing to do with one another.

Alberta PC’s promise coverage for alternative medicine.
The PC’s have taken a pretty un-skeptical position on alternative medicine. Material on their website promises that “Alternative medicine plays an increasingly important role in preventative health, and needs to be considered in a holistic approach to wellness – especially in cases where naturopathic, homeopathic, chiropractic, and other therapies help patients attain personal health goals. Qualified patients will be able to claim up to $500 per year for these treatments starting in 2013.” Alberta’s election has the whole country watching. It will be interesting to see if this issue comes out in the debates.  Thanks to John for the link.

Indian skeptic charged with “blasphemy” for revealing secret behind “miracle” of weeping cross
Weeping statues are an old trick, one which has been repeatedly debunked. So when a weeping cross turned up in Mumbai the president of the Indian Rationalist Association, Sanal Edamaruku, set out to explain how it was done. In this case, it didn’t seem that anyone was intentionally behind the hoax. The water was coming from a nearby drain. But when Sanal criticized members of the Catholic church for endorsing the “miracle”, he was arrested for blasphemy. I haven’t been able to find any recent updates on Sanal’s case, but lets hope officials are able to see that he has the truth on his side.

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

2 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. Chip cherry says:

    I should have sent you a recent Maclean’s article that was completely sympathetic to tea leaf reading. Facepalmy moment.

  2. gmcevoy says:

    ironally, the alt med paragraph is right above the eliminate waste section in the Alberta PC pdf


  • 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.