Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Would you kick a dying man?

The skeptical community is buzzing with news and views on the Burzynski Clinic with many well known bloggers rightfully lining up to deplore their bullying tactics and lack of evidence. It's a scientific battle though in which most of us are not always directly touched but there are those that are. Those claiming to heal cancer will happily parade hopeful people willing to give testimony on their behalf so it's worth stopping to listen to the other side. Below is an introduction by one of Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub's regular attendees with a link to her blog about  her family's experience. Please take the time to look through it.

"When sceptics challenge cancer quackery they are often accused of robbing people of their hope. Sceptics are made to feel mean for taking away the ‘last chance’ of a dying person, as if they don’t want to see the dying person recover. This is my blog where I talk about my dad who is dying of cancer and the harm that is being done to him and my family by this cancer quackery. Much of the cancer quackery he has encountered is from individuals who are using their status as doctors or nurses to advertise their businesses yet they are selling treatments that are outside of the medical establishment. I find it upsetting that my mum will say ‘well she is a nurse so it’s not quackery’ when describing the herbal supplements and remedies she is getting for my dad, if these people feel so strongly that the ‘establishment’ is wrong they should not use it to add legitimacy to what they do."

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Weekly round-up w/e 27/11/11

Welcome to this week's round-up. First up, we are looking forward to hosting, David Allen Green, Lawyer, Blogger as Jack of Kent, Legal correspondent of New Statesman, media correspondent of The Lawyer, convenor of Westminster Skeptics, Brummie and Villa fan on Thursday 8th December (yes Thursday) who will be taking time out from his obviously empty schedule to talk on Birmingham and free thought - from Joseph Priestley onwards. Things kick off at 7.30pm at The Vic with drinkies and chat before, during and after so get yourself along. This is our last meet until the New Year when we will return to Wednesdays (and not Thursdays).

A lot has come up this week, some silly, some foolish and some plain vile but as always there's fun to be had along the way.

First up,

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Weekly round-up w/e 20/11/11

Welcome one and all to this week’s round-up.  Not much to say up here except to remind you all that next month's talk by David Allen Green will be on Thursday 8th December and not on the usual 2nd Wednesday of the month like you’ve come to expect.  There’s some festival of the Church of Consumerism on later that month and as a result people like to have something called fun in the lead up to it meaning our pub is booked up.  Some people even like to start celebrating months in advance, not much else on I suppose.  Anyway, we’re back to normal in January.

I was talking to this bloke the other week, he said

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Weekly Round Up Week Ending 13/11/2011

It's time for another round up and what a week.  Firstly we've had the numeric palindrome day, 11/11/11, which has apparently seem a rush for caesarean section deliveries according to the Hindustan Times.  Whether this is the case or not, the 11/11/11 babies frenzy seems to have eclipsed last year's 10/10/10 babies, and no doubt they'll be more of the same for the 12/12/12 babies next year.  Given that this month's talk was about newspapers and the PR industry we might suggest that this is all just an excuse for a photo op of cute babies in the paper.  Cynical, us?

This week also includes Remembrance Sunday.  By now you've probably heard all about the white poppies as an alternative to the red poppy.  But did you hear the British Humanist Association's chief executive, Andrew Cospon, has expressed his disappointment in the group's exclusion and called for humanists to be included amongst representatives laying wreaths at the Cenotaph commemorations in London?  Humanist representatives have been officially included in similar services in Edinburgh and Belfast since last year.

It's also getting into flu season and your friendly local NHS service will be advertising flu jabs to at-risk groups.  But if a flu jab isn't up your street then maybe an alternative medicine iPhone app is the way to go.  Although why you need an app to tell you how to breathe is beyond us.  But it's okay, now you can bulk buy your homeopathy!

PZ Myers throws down with Deepak Chopra about his article on The Trouble With Genes and Edzard Ernst's writes in a Guardian article that alternative medicine is endangering patients.  But if you like your medical information to come from the world of celebrity instead of biology professors and doctors, then maybe Chuck Norris's article on childhood vaccinations in the US is the way to go.  No, we don't know when Mr Norris got his medical degree either.

More on the medical front as the National Geographic claims that new research suggests that using your mobile phone might actually fight Alzheimer's - although the study used mice and the scientists cautioned it was not a perfect replication in humans.

And some more myths about the mind are busted in this BBC article as part of their Radio 4 Brain Season.

But if you fancy something a bit lighter, Erik Davis looks into the Screaming Man in the scan phenomena, suggesting that maybe this is just a case of pareidolia (bet'cha you don't know what that is).

You thought Project Champion's CCTV in Birmingham and NOTW phone hacking was bad, well maybe God should be the one to worry about illegal monitoring says UK spoof news and satire site, News Thump.

And if all that reading is a bit much for you, check out this YouTube video showcasing Japanese company Neurowave's communication tool for humans; cat ears.  The company claim they have brainwave sensors that can read the wearers emotions and react accordingly…and are apparently the latest fashion accessory in Japan.

And finally, two guys and a jigsaw and nothing more.

This week's round up was compiled by Laura Creaven

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Weekly Round-up w/e 06/11/2011

So what’s been happening around the world of skepticism and science over the last seven days then? I suppose there is only one place to start and that’s with the testing (or not testing) of Psychic Sally. This generated a bit of discussion amongst skeptics and Kylie Sturgess gives a great overview of this and links to the main protagonist posts on her blog Token Skeptic

Ben Goldacre is taking a break from the Guardian to finish his book. He summarises his learning from the last eight years of interactions with nonsense in this concise final article for a while.

You can find a Facebook group for most everything these days, even the sharing of contagions via Pox Packages. More madness from the distrusters of vaccination.

It might seem a bit early but for busy parents such as myself tips on Christmas presents for the kids are always useful. Here’s a corker from Daniel Florien over at Unreasonable Faith.

I get a kick out of big science experiments and there aren’t many that come much bigger than this one, a laser that could tear apart the fabric of space!

We’ve written before on this very blog about the satirising and depiction of Mohammed and Islam. It’s always a controversial area and there are still people that respond with violence and intimidation.

Sex and ghosts over at the Huffington Post. Here is a fine example of non-skeptical reporting and researching of the paranormal.

Up until the end of November you can access the Scientific American archive for between the years 1845-1909 . It’s an incredible resource with documents presented in their original format but still fully searchable. There are around 75,000 articles for your amusement with some real gems hidden within.  Use them quick as they start to charge on November 30th.

I’m sure I’ve seen it etched in stone somewhere that “Thou Shalt Not Defy the Law of Thermodynamics.” It doesn’t stop people trying though as Cold Fusion pops up once again.

Finally don’t forget it’s the excellent Michael Marshall this Wednesday with his talk on Bad News – How PR came to rule modern journalism.

This week’s round-up was compiled by Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex)