The growing acceptance of acupuncture is occurring despite a complete lack of compelling scientific evidence that acupuncture works for anything. In fact the evidence, if anything, shows that acupuncture does not work. Proponents of acupuncture have largely achieved this by misrepresenting the evidence.
We could take any of the many uses for which acupuncture is promoted as an example – for example, Bell’s Palsy (BP). BP is paralysis usually of one side of the face caused by inflammation of the facial nerve where is passes through a long bony canal to exist the skull. Within this bony pathway the nerve has no room to expand, and so the swelling caused by the inflammation compresses and damages the nerve, causing facial weakness.
In 2007, The Amaz!ng Meeting 5 took on the theme "Skepticism and the Media". In this video from our archives, the creators of South Park, Trey and Matt, take questions from the audience and thank James Randi as the inspiration for their John Edward episode. Penn Jillette gives the introduction.
You can check out JREF's other videos from The Amaz!ng Meetings, which have been viewed nearly 1.5 million times since we started making them available online for free, at YouTube.com/JamesRandiFoundation.
Has the Internet age created a bunch of cynics, or are there other reasons that UFOs and ghost are vanishing from pop culture?
In a lengthy article entitled “Seeing and Believing,” UK author Stuart Walton muses on why UFO sightings have been on the decline (along with psychics and other paranormal phenomena). He begins the essay with a recounting of his own UFO sighting many years earlier, and goes on to describe his reassurance that Britain’s Ministry of Defense took these early reports seriously enough to at least investigate. Walton also notes his slight disappointment that the “official story” had explained nearly all of these sightings as weather balloons or drunken anecdotes by the time the desk closed in 2009.
Walton continues on to explore why sightings of UFOs have declined, citing the pop-culture phenomena Close Encounters of the Third Kind that most likely lead to the increase in reports. Not only have UFOs sightings shrunk, but reports of poltergeists, ghosts, and goblins are also on the wane, Walton notes. Maybe this is because of growing skepticism in popular culture, Walton speculates, but maybe it is something else.
Wheeling through social theory and the evolution of mass media, Walton makes the case that the “spectacularisation” of pop-culture has diminished our ability to recognize true paranormal or extraterrestrial events (if any do exist). He claims, not that better technology should be able to sort out these questions, but that technology (especially video recording technology) has “hastened the decline” in the belief in the supernatural simply because we are too skeptical. The implication is that our bar is too high: we cannot expect video evidence of a ghost that is of Transformers quality.
In a world where nearly everyone can be fooled by a YouTube hoax, Walton may have a point, but he goes too far.
On the first weekend in April, I flew to Minneapolis to participate in Skep Tech, a brand new skeptic conference organized by several student groups at three universities in that area. This first year event, which was free to all attendees, was a great success from my perspective. The talks were well attended, interesting topics were discussed and many new skeptical connections were made.
If you've been paying attention to the conference scene, you may have noticed a huge increase in the number of skepticism oriented conferences in the last few years. This increase is very real, and may well be evidence of skepticism's continued growth. It's getting to the point that some weekends there is more than one choice of event to attend - Skep Tech itself was held the same weekend as NECSS in New York City.