Everyone seems to think that their particular community is the world headquarters of woo, since we all seem to be bombarded by it all day every day. Well, I'll put my own community, Orange County, California, up against any other to vie for such honors.
One of these little faux magazines - really just advertising rags - that we get is called the OC Gazette. Nearly every article is a self-promotion from some purveyor of woo. One that caught my eye was unique in that virtually every sentence is an untrue, yet popularly believed, claim. It's the "Healthy Cooking" column, written by a self-described "Master Health Chef", whose name I will omit. Just the slug alone was worth the price of admission:
Did you know? Most cooking methods rob food of more than half its nutrients, add unhealthy fats, and taint it with harmful metals and chemicals.
Oh no! My favorite mischievous monkey, Curious George, has been co-opted to brainwash children with pseudoscience. Is nothing sacred? See
http://everydayskeptics.com/pseudoscience-in-childrens-cartoons/ On the DVD, an innocent CG cartoon segment is followed by a “real life” segment where children visit a naturopath. He tells them oregano seems to be helpful for fighting germs, he shows them acupressure points and indicates the meridians where the “energy” flows, and offers the kids bandages with embedded magnets. He then talks about maintaining health with exercise and good diet – as if it were something naturopaths recommend that regular doctors don’t.
Naturopathy sounds so good – it’s “natural.” It claims to address the cause of illness rather than just treating the symptoms. But in reality it’s a mixture of real medicine and quackery.
Every year on April 1st, the JREF gives out the Pigasus awards; a dubious honor to people or organizations that have done their best in the past year to snuff out science and promote irrationality. Randi talks about the 2008 winners, who receive no plaques, trophies, or banners: just the knowledge that they're getting publicity... but probably not the kind they want.
[Note: We became aware after making this video that Pigasus winner Dr. Colin Ross has recently reactivated his Million Dollar Challenge claim. While the video is still technically correct, we thought it fair to add this.]
At the JREF, we know we have one of the cleverest, funniest, artistic, and simply most talented audiences in the world.
But we are, after all, skeptics, and we decided it's time to prove it. So at The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 this year we're holding a Talent Show. Are you coming to TAM 7, and can you sing, dance, juggle, contort, do a light-sabre routine, tumble, prestidigitate, or bend spoons with the power of your mind alone? Then sign up!
And even if you don't want to get on stage and potentially embarrass yourself in front of hundreds of revelers, you can still be a reveler! Come to TAM 7 -- our speaker lineup is great, the extracurricular activities are stellar, and find out why TAMs are the premier skeptical conferences on the planet.
JREF fan Clare Zimmerman alerted us to this brilliant video that illustrates perfectly the basic problem with the all-too-common accusation that skeptics are closed-minded.
Because we rely on evidence before we decide whether a claim is correct or not, we skeptics are not closed-minded! Instead, we filter the ideas that get into our heads, allowing us to separate sense and nonsense. As the saying goes, have an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.