Skeptic History: November Anniversaries PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Farley   
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 09:00

 One of my projects is to research the history of skepticism, and relay what I find for the benefit of newer skeptics. The hope is that they can learn from the past to know 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 skeptic-relevant anniversaries for November 2013:

50th Anniversary: On November 1, 1963 LIFE magazine ran a feature titled "Crackdown on Quackery" which exposed several fraudulent quacks. It also spawned the lawsuit Dietemann v. Time Inc. which resulted in limits on the use of subterfuge in undercover journalism.

50th Anniversary: On November 2, 1963 the American Medical Association created a Committee on Quackery, beginning a decades-long battle with chiropractic that ended in a lengthy lawsuit (Wilk v. AMA) which the AMA lost in 1987.

Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   
Monday, 04 November 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.

Chemotherapy doesn’t work? Not so fast… (A lesson from history) (David Gorski) Critics of chemotherapy demonize it as poison and say it only helps in 2% of cases. They base their opinions on misunderstandings of old studies. Modern chemotherapy can completely cure some types of cancer and extend life in others. It is a major part of the reason that cancer mortality is decreasing even as cancer incidence is rising.

Chiropractic Abuse: An Insider’s Lament (Harriet Hall) Preston Long says he made a big mistake when he chose chiropractic as a career. He tells his own story and the story of chiropractic from the perspective of a skeptical insider in a new book, Chiropractic Abuse. He lists “20 things most chiropractors won’t tell you” and offers advice on how patients can protect themselves and recognize red flags.

Regulating Homeopathy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Steve Novella   
Friday, 01 November 2013 09:00

In Belgium, only doctors, dentists, and midwives may prescribe homeopathic potions. This appears to be the case since 1998, although the relevant laws are not limited to homeopathy – they state only that the above medical professionals are the only ones allowed to practice medicine, including alternative medicine.

About 10% of Belgium doctors prescribe homeopathy, and about 25% of the population use it.

Happy Hallowe'en Harry PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   
Thursday, 31 October 2013 09:00

This Hallowe’en marks the 87th anniversary of the death of the legendary escape artist, Harry Houdini. While on a major North American tour, Houdini was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, after days of suffering high fevers and abdominal pain. Doctors removed his burst appendix, but knew that, his body already wracked with peritonitis, he was beyond saving. His wife, Bess, was told he would not live out the night; the all but indomitable Harry, an extraordinary physical specimen at age 52, somehow fought off the grim reaper for a week, finally telling his wife he could no longer keep up the fight, and succumbing on October 31st, 1926.

Eighty-seven years later, Houdini remains the most famous magician of all time — albeit that many experts and enthusiasts in the world of magic resent this status, since Houdini achieved his greatest performing success as an escape artist, even though he loved magic. His final tour consists of a show in three parts — escapes, magic, and a lecture/demonstration segment exposing the methods of fraudulent séance mediums — in effect, neatly highlighting the three chief elements of Houdini’s extensive career as a live performer.

Homeopathic psychic exorcism: This week in Doubtful News for October 29, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sharon Hill   
Tuesday, 29 October 2013 09:00

Here is this week's summary of the ridiculous, the nonsensical, and the psychic screwups of the week courtesy of Doubtful News.

Lots of psychic news this week. First, a "psychic" bus driver has a premonition, refuses to drive kids. He gets fired. 

A lucrative psychic ring is busted in Russia. 

A psychic phone network is pranked by people looking for free readings. They weasel out by saying they KNEW they were pranks. Uh-huh… 

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