Monday 15 October 2012

Round-Up w/e 14th October 2012

Welcome to the latest Round-Up. 

A swift reminder that our next Social will be on Tuesday 23rd October at the Old Contemptibles on Edmund Street. The details of our next talk have been announced too with Aarathi Prasad talking on Like a Virgin: How Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex” on Wednesday 14th November. Also a quick plug too for Festival of the Spoken Nerd who are in Bromsgrove on Wednesday of this week. Hope you can make some or all of those.

First up, a bit of Bad Libel mixed in with Bad Pharma. (Bad Llama? ← Don't click on this!). Last week we highlighted the laughable but dangerous magazine “What Doctors Don't Tell You” and that Simon Singh had been threatened with libel action. There are a number of nice and polite things which can be done about this but unfortunately, as Josephine Jones tells us, W H Smiths don't seem to be taking it too seriously.

Solal Technologies a company working in the hotbed of alt-med quackery that is South Africa have gone one further as they have taken exception to a blogger pointing out dodgy claims in their magazine.

No libel in this story but Dr Martin Brunet highlights what appears to be a nasty opportunistic move engineered via a change in marketing of the well established epilepsy drug Epanutin. Little has changed but the price has gone from 2.5p per tablet to 56p per tablet, a change which the NHS will be expected to shoulder. The story has since been picked up by the Telegraph.

More alt-med now as a new meta-analysis on acupuncture has been published. Few surprises in that acupuncture has been shown again to have limited usefulness in long-term pain. Steve Novella though isn't convinced the authors aren't biased.

Over (under?) in Australia comes the unpleasant idea being peddled that homeopathy could be used to stop domestic violence. Needless to say this has caused an outcry being described as a dangerous andoutrageous money spinner.

This blues song nicely sums up the alt-med practitioner from The Damned and the Dirty: John the Evil Homeopath.

Speaking of dangerous and outrageous money spinners, we may have a new kid on the block, a certain Mr Errol Denton a self-styled “natural health warrior” who promotes some of the most bizarre quackeries on the market. Head over to his twitterfeed for a look. That is, if you can. Not only does he block people who may disagree with him but he scrolls down people's follower lists blocking them too. More information on Errol and some useful tips on how to view quacks' timelines when they would rather you didn't can be found on Jo Brodie's blog.

Some old hands are still around though such as our old “friend” the homeopathy advocate Dr. Nancy Malik or to give her her full title Nancy Malik. Here she is being taken apart. Again.

In a similar vein to the wibble being spouted by Susan Greenfield in the last few years another study has been released, trumpeted by Aric Sigmun, on the possible perils of too much children's screen time. Here's the takedown from Dr Peter Etchells. Also worth a read and a watch is Dr Ben Goldacre on his Newsnight meeting with Sigmun.

It would be difficult to have avoided the world record breaking jump of Felix Baumgartner on Sunday but, for those who were antagonised by the delays waiting for just the right conditions, here's the reason why they didn't launch in gusty conditions. A nerdy sideline to the jump though. I noticed that the speed being touted around for the speed of sound was low (690mph). It is usually quoted at about 760mph. Turns out the speed of sound is determined by the temperature of the air and not pressure as one might think and it's below -50ºC up there so Mach 1 is 690mph after all. Up there. The fact that he hit 833.9mph (unratified) and would have broken Mach 1 at standard temperature and pressure is neither here nor there. Ho hum, but yay skepticism!

More laws of physics now, this time stupid ones as it has been proved that we'll never get test-tube dinosaurs. Boo. Also, if Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia is to be believed quite a few of them are straight from the pit of hell. I'm sure his religious book of iron age stories has some much better answers.

Ah yes, religious news. Much of this is odious so hold your noses and jump in.

Gay marriage is like Nazis says the Archbish of Canterbury. Or something. Martin Robbins in the Guardian. For a more lighthearted(?!) take here's the Daily Mash instead.

The Apple logo is anti-christian says Russian orthodox activists. Go figure.

Brazilian police stop religious mass suicide. (link to Daily Fail)

Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old Pakistani schoolgirl shot in an attempted assassination by the Taliban. She championed education for girls. Now heading for treatment in the UK.

At least Christians don't mind a joke (too much). Better the... erm... devil you know.

Right, towel yourselves off (and/or swallow back that nausea) and watch this mash-up of footage from the Leveson enquiry by one of our previous speakers Rich Peppiatt.

All of the people featured said the right words. Just not necessarily in the right order.

This round-up was compiled by Chris Richardson (@christheneck) with additional links from Roy Beddowes.

No comments: