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Skeptic History: October Anniversaries PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Tim Farley   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 12:00

 I like to highlight items from the history of skepticism, so newer skeptics can learn how we've arrived where we are today. To this end, I post a daily fact from skeptic history on social media.  

Here are a few notable skeptical anniversaries for the month of October 2013:

 

25th Anniversary: On October 1, 1988 The U.S. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program began operation. It was created after a series of lawsuits caused some pharmaceutical companies to withdraw their vaccine products from the market. This resulted in vaccine shortages that endangered the public health.

 

20th Anniversary: October 1, 1993: A lengthy legal battle between the Church of Scientology and the U.S. government ends when the church is finally granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.

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Psychic fraud in jail: This week in Doubtful News for October 1, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 09:00

 Here is this week's summary of the odd, the scary, and the confusing courtesy of Doubtful News. 

Big News as the Marks family matriarch is found guilty on all 14 counts of various bad things.

For a chronology of the trial, go here. This verdict is very important. A psychic is in JAIL! This was a huge decision where the jury decided that even though fortune telling is free speech, stringing people along with promises is not OK even when they voluntarily give you their money for "advice". It seems clear the jury thought that she was not providing a valid service but taking advantage of people in troubling situations. This decision is very satisfying and should be referred to often. 

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Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   
Monday, 30 September 2013 09:00

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

Obesity, cancer, and chemotherapy (David Gorski)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/obesity-cancer-and-chemotherapy/   Obese people may be getting chemotherapy doses that are too small for them. Calculating their dose based on weight gives doses high enough to scare clinicians, and they dial it back. But lower doses result in lower survival rates without decreasing the risk of complications. The final answer isn’t in, but the American Society of Clinical Oncology has issued new guidelines.

Answering Our Critics, Part 1 of 2 (Harriet Hall)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/answering-our-critics-part-1-of-2/ The critics of science-based medicine keep bringing up the same old memes. They are listed and refuted here to save time in answering them in the future. They range from accusations that we are shills for Big Pharma to “it worked for me” to “natural is better.”

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No Health Concerns for GMO PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Steven Novella   
Saturday, 28 September 2013 09:00

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, remain controversial, but like so many other politically hot topics, the controversy is more cultural than scientific.

Scientific evidence more than a century ago settled on the consensus that life on earth is the product of organic evolution. Over the last several decades a scientific consensus has emerged that our planet is warming from man-made causes. Over that same time scientists agreed, based upon evidence, that vaccines do not cause autism. Yet all of these topics remain publically controversial.

Now, the science seems to be converging on the consensus that GMO crops are safe for the environment and human consumption. Those who have opposed GMO crops are not happy with the science.

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The Bradford Experiment PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr.Romeo Vitelli   
Friday, 27 September 2013 09:00

On February 6, 1921, Thomas Lynn Bradford of Detroit, Michigan methodically sealed off his rented room before blowing out the pilot light on the room’s gas heater.  He then turned up the gas jets and quietly waited until the gas asphyxiated him. Though the circumstances of Bradford’s suicide seemed mundane enough to the police investigators, his reason for committing suicide was, well, out of this world.

Bradford, who had claimed to be a former electrical engineer, actor and professional athlete, had devoted the last years of his life to spiritualism.  Along with marketing himself as a psychic in the Detroit area, he also conducted numerous lectures on the occult.  Though his lectures didn’t appear particularly popular, he still produced numerous (and mostly unpublished) essays on different supernatural topics. Not long before his death, Bradford had written that, “all phenomena are outside the realm of the supernatural” and that science would eventually prove the existence of the soul and its survival after death. All of which led to what would be the most radical scientific test of the paranormal ever attempted.

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