Pseudoscience:Science Errors, Conflicts & Frauds

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Skeptical Raptor's Blog Skeptical Raptor's Blog For New Year’s Day, I’m republishing the top 10 articles I wrote in 2013. Well, actually top 9, plus 1 from 2012 that just keeps going. #7. This article was published on 23 July 2013, and has had over 6000 views. Polio vaccines do not cause cancer.
Jail for Ignorance 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

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. 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 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
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. Paranormal Circumstances: One Influential Scientist's Quixotic Mission to Prove ESP Exists | Mind & Brain Paranormal Circumstances: One Influential Scientist's Quixotic Mission to Prove ESP Exists | Mind & Brain
junk science and pseudoscience - topical index Last updated 16-Feb-2014 Other Sources Gallery of water-related pseudoscience - Junk science in the marketplace junk science and pseudoscience - topical index
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.” Bottles Full of Brain-Boosters | Mind & Brain Bottles Full of Brain-Boosters | Mind & Brain
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.” Ancient Astronauts & Space Gods! Ancient Astronauts & Space Gods!
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Reviews & Recommendations - Book Reviews 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
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. How to read and interpret a science news story How to read and interpret a science news story
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. The AIDS Conspiracy
Pro-reason bloggers are doing a better job than scientists at challenging alternative medicine. Long may it continue ALTERNATIVE medicine has never enjoyed such popularity and respect. Therapies once dubbed "pseudoscience" or "quackery" are now typically referred to as "alternative", "complementary" or "holistic". Practices that used to circulate on the fringes are now accepted as mainstream. Guerilla enlightenment: Defending science online - opinion - 01 May 2012
We frequently criticize the media for gullible reporting of pseudoscience and inaccurate reporting of real science. But sometimes they exceed our fondest hopes and get it spectacularly right. On December 25, 2008, the Wall Street Journal gave us all a Christmas present: they printed an article by Steve Salerno that was a refreshing blast of skepticism and critical thinking about alternative medicine. Salerno points out that 38% of Americans use "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) and it is being increasingly accepted in hospitals and medical schools. He says this should be a laughing matter but isn't because of the huge amounts of money being spent on ineffective treatments. Not to speak of the huge amounts of money being wasted on implausible research at the NCCAM. The Wall Street Journal Debunks the Myth of Alternative Medicine
Controversial Italian Scientist Says Splenda Causes Cancer
Statins have no side effects? What our study really found, its fixable flaws, and why trials transparency matters (again). Hi there, sorry to be absent (dayjob!). I was surprised to see a study I’m a co-author on getting some front page media play today, under the headline “Statins ‘have no side effects’”. That’s not what our paper found. But it was an interesting piece of work, with an odd result, looking at side effects in randomised trials of statins: specifically, and unusually, it compares the reports of side effects among people on statins in trials, against the reports of side effects from trial participants who were only getting a dummy placebo sugar pill.

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