Saturday 21 January 2012

Weekly Round Up w/e 22/01/2012

Howdy all and welcome once again to the Birmingham Skeptics weekly round up, gathering the good the bad and the faintly ridiculous from all corners of the web. I did think of having a lie in this week and just posting up a black page in protest to SOPA and PIPA, but with support for those measures rapidly waning I’d better just get on with it.

Let’s start with the trials and tribulations of Rhys Morgan. Not unaccustomed to having to defend his views Rhys found that the use of an image from the online cartoon JandMo as his Facebook status attracted the attention of people around him that had, at best, only an ironic grasp of the notion of freedom of speech. Rhys used the image in support of the UCL Secularist and Humanist Society who had been forced to take that image down and whose president resigned over the matter.

Rhys eventually had to remove the Facebook image after pressure from his school and a disgusting level of threat from his so-called peers but you can read about it on his blog and the clear and admirable way he addresses these issues. It’s difficult not to be reminded of the kind of horrific abuse that Jessica Ahlquist has been undergoing since beginning her stance to have a prayer banner removed from her school. There is a reasonable summary of events here, but have a scan down her blog to contrast her measured approach to that of those who pile invective and hate upon her.

Oh those crazy homeopaths always something to chuckle about with them. When they’re not treating aids with water and sugar pills, headaches with water and sugar pills in fact, most anything with water and sugar pills they’re providing all kinds of unscientific and damaging medical advice. Read these Short and Spiky posts here and here for a reminder of the sheer insanity of this ridiculous treatment. The second one is a whole new level of stupid.

It’s time to go down under for our next couple of items. No, we’re not talking about Australia; we’re talking derrieres and their emissions. In these days of heightened security and identity theft it’s good to know that scientists are unafraid to probe novel areas of recognition. And finally on this topic, have you ever stopped to consider astronaut flatulence? No, why not, are you weird or something?

Here’s a remarkable story of scientist, Paul Callaghan, trialling an alt med cure for cancer on himself. I’m not sure why he’s bothering though because as this post in the Telegraph explains, a mere lack of scientific evidence of effectiveness isn’t actually a lack of evidence of effectiveness, or some such nonsense.

There’s another twist on the ongoing Burzynski debacle from Andy Lewis over at the Quackometer. I don’t know why but the words to the Pseudo-Scientist’s Song pop into my head at this point. Andy’s just launched a Facebook page too so if you’re on that particular mode of social media head on over and “Like” it.

In an interesting sting Which? asked several nutritionists for health advice and found them sadly lacking. It’s a good read and well worth scanning down to the comments where we can see our old friend David Colqhoun performing his usual stirling defence of science. You can read his take on it over at his own blog.

I find that just balancing my budget is hard enough, but it must be even trickier for a whole US State. It’s good to know that Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has his priorities so well sorted to guide him. “Get your coats on kids, we’re heading to Bible Land, don’t worry if you can’t read the signs you don’t need education in heaven.”

The very Welsh and wonderful Dean Burnett entertained us with not one, but two Guardian articles this week. Firstly he explained why Blue Monday is a depressing day of pseudoscience and humiliation, and then went on to challenge some PR guff masquerading as science. Good work that man!

Don’t forget that we have the Birmingham Skeptics Social coming up and not long after the wonderful Alice Sheppard will be entertaining us with her talk “When the Universe came to the People – Citizen Science for Skeptics” and it’d be wonderful to see you there.

They're not new but they are a lot of fun so we'll leave you with some of Richard Wisemans quirky science tricks.

This week's round up was put together by Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub co organiser Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex) with helpful suggestions from regular attendee and all round great guy Roy Beddowes.


shellity said...

Your link to my Pseudo-Scientist's Song led me to you. Thanks! I think I'll stay for a while and have a look around. Got any biscuits?

Patrick (@paddyrex) said...

Haha, stay as long as you like ShellIty, I think there are some Jammy Dodgers knocking around. If you ever want to post something up on our blog we'd love to have your contribution.