James Randi Educational Foundation. Some people see human tragedies as a time for empathy, sympathy, or charity.
Then there are those who see it as an opportunity. It didn’t take long after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8, 2014, for Uri Geller to take to the airwaves and claim that he was asked to help in the search for the plane. There should be nothing surprising about this. The most dangerous place on planet earth might be trying to stand between Uri Geller and a TV camera. What is perhaps surprising is how many people believe his claim. The seven deadly sins of health and science reporting. Benjamin Franklin said two things are certain in life: death and taxes.
Another one we could add to this list is that on any given news website and in almost all print media there will be articles about health and nutrition that are complete garbage. Some articles that run under the health and nutrition “news” heading are thought provoking, well researched and unbiased, but unfortunately not all. And to help you traverse this maze – alongside an excellent article about 20 tips for interpreting scientific claims – we will look at seven clichés of improper or misguided reporting.
If you spot any of these clichés in an article, we humbly suggest that you switch to reading LOLCats, which will be more entertaining and maybe more informative too. 1. How the craziest f#@!ing “theory of everything” got published and promoted – UPDATED. Physicists have been working for decades on a "theory of everything," one that unites quantum mechanics and relativity.
Apparently, they were being too modest. Yesterday saw publication of a press release claiming a biologist had just published a theory accounting for all of that—and handling the origin of life and the creation of the Moon in the bargain. Homeopathic remedies recalled for containing real medicine. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recalled homeopathic remedies made by a company called Terra-Medica because they may contain actual medicine -- possibly penicillin or derivatives of the antibiotic.
Terra-Medica creates a range of homeopathic capsules, suppositories and ointments under clinical-sounding brand names including Pleo-Fort, Pleo-Quent and Pleo-EX. The FDA has found that 56 lots of the drugs may contain penicillin or derivatives of penicillin, which may have been produced during fermentation. This is a problem, because Terra-Medica says that its products don't contain antibiotics. Pleo Sanum range of products, for example, "can address acute and chronic inflammations and infections without the use of traditional antibiotics". Chiropractors' spine-chilling warnings about computers, phones and pancakes. Scaremongering over new technology has been around as long as technology itself, but it sank to a new low last month when The Telegraph published the following: Computers blamed for children's bad backsComputers and mobile telephones are causing an increase in back problems for teenagers, with 40 per cent of children suffering pain, a study has claimed.Researchers warned parents that their teenagers are at increasing risk from back or neck pain due to sedentary lifestyles and excessive use of technology.
The coverage was based on a press release from the British Chiropractic Association as part of its "Technology and Teens" awareness campaign. The BCA's press office told me that the research was an opinion poll conducted by a market research company, but they declined my request to look at the questions that had been asked or the multiple choice answers that had been provided. The Dangers of Pseudoscience. Skeptical Raptor's Blog. Today, 67 years ago, Jackie Robinson took the field with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the color barrier in sports–he was the first black to integrate professional sports in the USA.
Many of you probably don’t know anything about baseball. Many of you probably don’t know who Jackie was. Most of you probably don’t know that this was the probably the most important event in America’s, if not the world’s, racial relations. Jackie Robinson playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954. Jail for Ignorance. Insurance companies and casinos are among the richest industries in the world.
Televised sporting events typically capture the largest audiences and are the most lucrative programing. What is common to each of these highly profitable industries is uncertainty. We insure against rare but unpredictable events, we gamble for the thrill of coming out on top against the odds, and who would watch or attend a sporting event when the outcome was already known (think of all those “spoil alerts” during the Olympics).
So why do we have such a hard time understanding that science is not a perfect prediction machine, that it doesn’t know everything, that it traffics in uncertainty and ignorance – and that this is precisely what makes it powerful? Science Errors & Conflicts. Operations that are just a stitch-up: How patients can be healed by telling them they've had surgery - even when it's all a sham. By John Naish Published: 23:58 GMT, 9 July 2012 | Updated: 23:58 GMT, 9 July 2012 The situation sounds like a sick practical joke: you are admitted to hospital for an important operation, and the staff give you an anaesthetic and wheel you into surgery.
But unknown to you, the surgeon merely makes a few tiny cuts on your skin. They do this on the part of your body where you are supposed to have been opened up — then send you back to the ward and tell you the op was a success. Fake operations are sometimes turning out to be highly effective. Paranormal Circumstances: One Influential Scientist's Quixotic Mission to Prove ESP Exists. Soon Bem was led to a soundproof room, where he sat in a reclining chair with Ping-Pong ball halves covering his eyes and headphones delivering white noise.
For the next half hour, as a sender in another room watched a one-minute clip on a TV monitor several times, he described the images that went through his mind. Later, shown four clips, including the one that the sender had watched, Bem ranked them in order of how closely they coincided with his own mental images. Because he gave the second-highest rating to the clip the sender had watched, the trial didn’t result in a “hit.”
But Bem was taken with the rigorous protocol. Junk science and pseudoscience - topical index. Last updated 16-Feb-2014 Other Sources Gallery of water-related pseudoscience - Junk science in the marketplace.
Bottles Full of Brain-Boosters. Risky Brew? Some experts nonetheless question the safety of the drinks if imbibed in quantity or by the wrong folks. When I reach Emory bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe, editor in chief of the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience, he opens up a can of outrage. “It is unethical to sell drinks with potentially powerful neurological effects without long-term scientific studies,” he tells me.
“I am especially worried about messing with the brain chemistry of people with depression, ADHD, or other conditions that may be made worse by neuroactive chemicals.” Understanding the difference between science & pseudo-science by investigating some of Astrology's claims. Ancient Astronauts & Space Gods! Erich von Däniken, a Swiss high-school dropout, has made many millions of dollars from more than a dozen books written since 1968. These books all make a remarkable and exciting claim. In von Däniken’s words, “Our forefathers received visits from the universe in the remote past, even though I do not yet know who these extraterrestrial intelligences were or from which planet they came.
I nevertheless proclaim that these strangers annihilated part of mankind existing at the time and produced a new, perhaps the first, Homo sapiens.” About « The Language of Bad Physics. 10 Questions To Distinguish Real From Fake Science. Reviews & Recommendations - Book Reviews. From Abracadabra to Zombies Recommendations God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States by Karen Stollznow (2013) The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin - Book Review. How to read and interpret a science news story. Scientist Emily Willingham blogs about science at Double X Science. BoingBoing just alerted me to the existence of her site and the fact that she has come up with a handy, six-step guide for reading and interpreting science news stories (it applies equally well to press releases).
The six rules are useful for lifting the veil on the science being touted or reported and should serve as a lesson for press release authors hoping to avoid hyperbole and journalists wishing to remain neutral in their reporting and avoid sensationalising a mundane research paper. Willingham explains why each of her rules is important and gives a demo of how to apply them with a sample news story about exposure to “chemicals” and autism. The same checklist can equally be applied to scientists writing about developments in science too, of course. Certainly, it is worth considering rule #5, if choosing to apply #6…everyone has an agenda. The AIDS Conspiracy. Nicoli Nattrass Paper, 240 pages, 8 line drawings, 3 tables ISBN: 978-0-231-14913-6 $25.00 / £17.50 March, 2012 Cloth, 240 pages, 8 line drawings, 3 tables ISBN: 978-0-231-14912-9 $35.00 / £24.00 Since the early days of the AIDS epidemic, many bizarre and dangerous hypotheses have been advanced to explain the origins of the disease.
In this compelling book, Nicoli Nattrass explores the social and political factors prolonging the erroneous belief that the American government manufactured the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to be used as a biological weapon, as well as the myth's consequences for behavior, especially within African American and black South African communities. Contemporary AIDS denialism, the belief that HIV is harmless and that antiretroviral drugs are the true cause of AIDS, is a more insidious AIDS conspiracy theory. Guerilla enlightenment: Defending science online - opinion - 01 May 2012. The Wall Street Journal Debunks the Myth of Alternative Medicine. Controversial Italian Scientist Says Splenda Causes Cancer. Bad Science.