(Note: an earlier article on this topic has been replaced with this one.)
FLASH! Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps are useless for relieving pain in people with arthritis, say University of York researchers! In what they claim was the first tightly controlled trial to look at both alternative therapies, they discovered there was no benefit to their use for pain or stiffness. Though this, to me, is equivalent to announcing that the Titanic has struck an iceberg, I congratulate the York researchers on their bravery in confronting and arousing the ire of the millions - literally - all over the globe who wouldn't be caught without their precious - $40 to $100 - ornaments. Though we wish the data pool had been larger - it was 45 patients - at least it was conducted. The York savants tested a copper bracelet, two different magnetic wrist straps, and a demagnetized version.
If you're reading this, you are aware of the James Randi Educational Foundation's $1,000,000 psychic challenge. This is the real deal. We have the money in a Goldman Sachs account, we WILL pay if someone wins a test that they design with us, and we do test people. A lot of people dispute those facts, but they simply can't—we've demonstrated them time after time.
Some individuals think it's a simple thing to conduct a challenge, and they've concocted their own home-brew versions. As a fun diversion, I'm going to present two of them to you.
Quest Florida is accepting registrations for campers 8-17 years old until November 20, 2009. Don't put off signing up and reserving a spot for your camper this Winter. Older campers can attend as counselors in training. Families are welcome to join us too. The camp is located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida and will run from 12/25/09 to 1/1/10. Campers will receive three meals a day, a bunk bed in a single sex cabin with a CQ FL counselor of the same gender, a CQ FL t-shirt, a field trip to John Pennekamp Underwater State Park, visits to the beach, a short day hike, a canoe trip on a lagoon to see Florida wildlife, celebrate Festivus and New Year's Eve, participate in critical thinking activities and other fun arts and crafts and games, and enjoy a special visit from The Amazing Randi!
Your camper will make friends, have fun, and create memories to last a lifetime!
Here are two quick things you can do to fight the popularity of two different forms of non-scientific "medical treatment."
In the US, it's hardly news that the government is looking into universal health care. And while this enormous issue is beyond the scope of things that we cover in Swift, there is something you should be aware of. Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch.org sent us this:
Reported versions of the House and Senate health reform bills contain language that would mandate coverage of services (prayer) by Christian Science practitioners.
Global warming, or as it's more accurately known, global climate change, is one of the most divisive issues in skepticism. I was reminded of this recently when I gave a talk for Phoenix Skeptics. In the friendly chatter afterward, someone asked what I thought of the films An Inconvenient Truth and its counter, The Great Global Warming Swindle. As it turns out, I had watched An Inconvenient Truth on the airplane to Arizona, and I found it to be as I expected—too much Al Gore, and too little science. It was interesting, but it didn't convince me, and I know it left out some important pieces of data. As for the The Great Global Warming Swindle, I had not seen it (I've watched parts since), but I recommended that the group watch it.
One attendee was displeased with this. "It would be like watching Loose Change or Expelled!" And I agreed, it could be like that.