Creationists Believe the Darndest Things PDF Print E-mail
Written by Phil Plait   
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 00:00

Finding young Earth creationist lunacy is like walking into an elephant paddock at a zoo and hoping to find poop. All too easy.

I say this because in England, thinking the Loch Ness monster disproves evolution can help get you a job! A group there called The National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) provides information on vocational and academic skills -- they're something like an accreditation group. They reviewed the curriculum involved in getting an International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE): a certificate granted after passing a creationist course that's taught in about 50 private Christian schools in the UK. And what did the NARIC find? That this certificate is just fine and dandy, and equivalent to international A levels (a scholastic certificate that shows competency in a particular course).

Denny’s Discrimination Update PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Sunday, 16 August 2009 11:57

It's been a few weeks since I wrote about discrimination at a Denny's in Euless, Texas, and I thought an update was in order.

I have not heard from either the corporate office or local franchise holder, either via e-mail or postal mail. I'm not too surprised by this, and I do expect a response at some time. I sent the letters via certified mail, and they were both received.

I do have an interesting follow-up though.

A few days after the original incident, I had occasion to be in Holbrook, Arizona. For breakfast, I decided to eat at - you guessed it - Denny's. The restaurant looked identical, but the experience was quite different. In fact, it was incredible.

Profiles of the Godless PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christina Stephens   
Friday, 14 August 2009 21:17

Back in early July, I argued in this Swift post that studies reporting greater health (especially mental health) among strongly religious people using a control group of nonbelievers were weakened by the fact that nonbelievers may be too heterogeneous a group to make an adequate comparison to strongly religious populations. I pointed out the need to study nonbelievers as a group on a larger scale in order to determine if there were any meaningful differences between different subtypes of nonbelievers.

As such, I was pleasantly surprised when the newest issue (August/September 2009) of Free Inquiry magazine arrived in my mailbox. Hiding in the pages of the magazine is an article reporting on the results of a study which did exactly that.

A Death in the Family PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   
Thursday, 13 August 2009 10:35

Here is a report on a crime with four victims and no perpetrator. In June, Australian couple Thomas and Manju Sam were convicted of manslaughter. Their first child, Gloria, died of eczema-related complications in 2002. She was nine months old, and had been battling illness over half her life. To deal with her eczema, she was treated almost exclusively with homeopathic remedies.

Today, sentencing recommendations were submitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Does Chinese acupuncture affect the brain's ability to regulate pain? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christina Stephens   
Thursday, 13 August 2009 00:00

A new acupuncture vs. placebo acupuncture study has been making headlines due to results of a study suggesting that there may be a difference in opioid receptor response in acupuncture vs. placebo acupuncture.

Several large-scale studies [1-3] have been released showing that acupuncture and various forms of placebo acupuncture have clinically insignificant differences in the reduction of pain, proponents of acupuncture are now looking at brain-imaging to explore the mechanisms of acupuncture and placebo acupuncture to determine if acupuncture and placebo acupuncture operate via different mechanisms.

In this study [4], researchers hypothesized that long term acupuncture therapy may result in increased opioid receptor availability and that these effects would not be observed in a placebo acupuncture group. Their subjects consisted of 20 women randomly divided into 2 groups of 10 subjects. One group received traditional acupuncture treatment while another group received non-invasive, placebo acupuncture. Results from PET scans using contrast material were taken during a 90-minute period, during which acupuncture treatment or sham acupuncture treatment was administered during the 45-90 minute timeframe. A period followed in which subjects received 7 acupuncture or sham acupuncture treatments, and then the PET scan procedure was repeated, for a total of 9 treatments. Results indicate acupuncture therapy evoked short-term increases in MOR binding potential, in multiple pain and sensory processing regions including the cingulate (dorsal and subgenual), insula, caudate, thalamus, and amygdala. Acupuncture therapy also evoked long-term increases in MOR binding potential in some of the same structures including the cingulate (dorsal and perigenual), caudate, and amygdala. These short- and long-term effects were absent in the sham group where small reductions were observed, an effect more consistent with previous placebo PET studies.

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