Skeptic News: Cults, Colours, Conspiracies


Skeptic News: Cults, Colours, Conspiracies


NZ Skeptics Newsletter

 

Cults, Colours, Conspiracies

Tonight I’m off to a meeting of AMORC – the Ancient Mystical Order of Rosae Crucis. It occurred to me the other day that there’s an old idea which might be appropriate here. I’m sure many of you have heard of the guideline that the more a country’s name stresses that it is democratic, the less likely it is to actually resemble a democracy. Take the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) or the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) as examples. I wonder whether the same rule might hold for cult groups. For example, the Order of Oriental Templars (OTO) is not related to either the Orient or Templars (it was invented in the 20th century by German occultists), The Church of Scientology is not really a church (it’s just a tax dodge) and the Unification Church (Moonies) didn’t unify the Christian church. So I have a sneaking suspicion that the Ancient Mystical Order of Rosae Crucis is probably going to turn out to be neither Ancient nor Mystical.

 

Anyway, I’d like to ask everyone to do me a favour. If you don’t receive a newsletter from me in three weeks, please email Craig ([email protected]) and let him know that I’ve either been sucked in by the cult or been kidnapped by them, and that he needs to send a rescue mission to extricate me. Thanks!

 

Mark Honeychurch

Randi Video: No Longer Missing

Thank you Mark Fletcher for letting us know that you had a copy of the video of James Randi’s 1993 Christchurch talk. He’d even transcoded the video from VHS to DVD several years ago, which made it a lot easier for me to get it onto YouTube. Thanks Mark, I owe you a beer!

Back in the day the NZ Skeptics charged $25 to send a VHS copy of the video out to you, but now – for the new low price of free – you can watch it at the click of a button. Isn’t technology marvellous!


The Amazing Randi – a public lecture given by James Randi in Christchurch, New Zealand on the 6th of July 1993.

2020: A Desert Odyssey

I’m sure most people saw the intriguing news that a tall prism shaped metal structure, now known as the Utah Monolith, had been found by conservationists in the desert in the US, sticking out from the rock floor of a canyon. It’s been great to see sleuths figure out where the monolith is located, using flight plans and google maps satellite view (in a slot canyon in Lockhart Basin in San Juan County, Utah), approximately when it was placed, using historical satellite photos (between August 2015 and October 2016) and how it was made, with several people visiting the site (it’s hollow and made from riveted stainless steel sheets). However, the mystery of who put it there has still not been solved.

 

In a further twist to the story, the monolith has now disappeared – presumably taken by either the original creators or someone else who wanted to add to the intrigue of this case.

 

I’m a big fan of these kinds of mysteries, which seem to fall into two camps. Some are real, genuine mysteries, such as the Antikythera device, the Somerton Man mystery and the Phaestos Disc. Others are obviously contrived, like the Voynich Manuscript, the Kryptos monument and the Georgia Guidestones. This monolith is also not the only mystery that appears to be related to the book/movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” – the Toynbee Tiles are another 2001 related enigma, and I’d recommend watching the documentary Resurrect Dead to see more about the tiles, along with a possible answer to who’s behind them. It’s always fascinating to see people trying to piece together these types of puzzles, and I’ve recently been doing a little of it myself with the Cicada 3301 puzzles from a few years ago.

 

However, it’s unfortunate when these mysteries go too far. QAnon, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, is a prime example of someone inventing a mystery that is causing real harm. In that case the motivation appears to be political, with the result of fomenting unrest in the US – something they definitely don’t need any more of at the moment. The Oak Island story is one that started off as an interesting case study in people’s wishful thinking, but it’s sad to see how much time and cash has since been poured into this literal money pit. And, closer to home, pre-Māori settler conspiracy theorists (such as Noel Hilliam, Martin Doutre, Ian Wishart and Cedric Livingstone) seem to often be driven by racism and a desire to de-legitimise Māori land claims, rather than being engaged in an honest search for the truth.

 

Let’s hope that nobody tries to hijack the Utah Monolith and make it into something it’s not. For now it’s a harmless prank which we may never know the backstory to – fingers crossed it stays that way.

Billy TK’s Religious Influences

There’s an interesting article published by Dr Deane Galbraithe this week about Billy Te Kakiha’s evangelical influence, and how this may explain his adoption of so many conspiracy theories in his talks. For those who don’t remember, Billy TK started a political party earlier this year, the Public Party, with a platform based on conspiracies and other unscientific nonsense. Deane has been talking in our Facebook group about his article, and, although it’s not mentioned in the article itself, on Facebook he’s talked about someone who has messaged him to let him know that Billy TK has a history with the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement.

 

This new piece of information piqued my interest. Although I’ve not personally managed to attend a Seventh Day Adventist meeting yet, I’ve listened to the Oh No Ross and Carrie podcast episodes about the Adventists. Ross and Carrie attended a series of lectures from the Seventh Day Adventists that focused on the coming End Times and the evils of the Catholic Church. The Reform Movement is separate to the Seventh Day Adventist church, but a quick read of their Wikipedia page shows that the two groups share the majority of their beliefs, including the idea that the end of the world can, and should, be hastened. If this doomsday group is driving Billy TK’s thinking, that would be news to me, and could explain how it was so easy for him to end up believing in political conspiracies about the UN and the New World Order.

 

So… I figured I’d see if a quick google search would give me confirmation of this connection. I typed “Billy TK Seventh Day Adventists” into google, and sure enough the first result was a link to an article on the Seventh Day Adventist Reformed Movement’s website from back in 2015. The article said:

 

“Right after the fellowship lunch in Auckland Church, the whole band of members and friends met at Shelly Beach to witness the baptism of Brother Billy Te Kahika Jr.”

 

Billy is quoted as saying:

 

“When I was 16 and with the introduction to my dad, I fell into the world of new age and mysticism, which verged on spiritualism… After starting a Christian walk, I encountered the Adventist message, which I adopted.  I was baptized at the age of 21 and soon after became a famous musician which tore me from my walk with Jesus.  I then had about 6 years without the Lord, and I experienced the pain that comes when you walk away from Him… I was baptised this past December as a member of the church. To do that I had to give up my music career which had been my life – but compared with what God has done for me this is a small price to pay on my part to be in God’s family.

 

I pray that with my recent election to help church missionary work that God will use me to bring other people home to His church in preparation for His Son’s soon return to take His children home to heaven. Amen.”

Huh. It turns out that somehow this connection had flown right over my head. Looking down my google search results, there are a couple of forum posts that appear to mention this connection, but it looks that, like me, the media may well have missed Billy’s ties to this particular controversial church. This might also explain why Billy walked out of a Stuff interview with Paula Penfold as soon as she asked about his faith. I wonder if he figured that it was less damaging to walk out of the interview than either lie or admit that for many years he’s been a member of a fatalistic cult, and that he believes God’s Son will “soon return” to whisk his faithful followers away to heaven and dispose of the rest of us.
 

Guerrilla Skeptics strike again

The amazing members of the GSoW (Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia) group have struck again. In recent years the group have done some amazing work creating new Wikipedia articles and rewriting existing ones on topics of importance to skepticism, including quite a few that are related to New Zealand – including pages for skeptic Siouxsie Wiles, psychic Jeanette Wilson and even our organisation, the NZ Skeptics. We’ve also had Susan Gerbic, head of the project, come to New Zealand twice in the last few years to talk to us at our conferences about both the GSoW project and her work using sting operations to bust psychics.

This time the GSoW team have rewritten the page for Helen Petousis-Harris (who spoke at an NZ Skeptics conference a few years ago about the history of vaccine denial), and appear to have done an amazing job! If any of our members have time to spare and would like to help out with the ongoing project to improve Wikipedia from a skeptical viewpoint, please get in contact with Susan at [email protected].
 

Colour Therapy

For those who followed Craig’s link last week to a colour therapy site, you may have thought that some of the claims on the site were pretty egregious – including such gems as “incurable means curable from within” and “synthetic fibres have a frequency that is detrimental to our health and well being”.

 

However, for some of us who have attended the regular Skeptical Activism meetings in Wellington, Colour Therapy Manukau is a familiar sight. Several of us have cut our teeth on their website, making Advertising Standards Authority complaints about lists of diseases that colour can therapy can supposedly cure, and pseudo-scientific claims about how coloured wool in a metal bowl can help you. These days, when you browse their website, instead of seeing those kinds of claims you read the following:

 

“To know about the types of conditions we may be able to assist with, please contact us direct.”

 

“if you wish to obtain further details, please check out our contact page on how to get in touch with us.”

 

“Should you wish to see the numerous testimonials that we receive regularly here at the clinic, please feel free to contact us and at your request we will either mail or email them to you.”

 

It’s a small win, but it’s great to see that we’ve been able to make something of a difference in this case – and in the case of several hundred other companies who have had to remove dangerous medical claims that we’ve complained about over the last 8 years.

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Skeptic News: Elections, Vaccines, Colour Therapy and more!


Skeptic News: Elections, Vaccines, Colour Therapy and more!


A weekly roundup of skeptical news

NZ Skeptics Newsletter

Welcome to the NZ Skeptics weekly newsletter. This week, you’ve got me, Craig Shearer, Chair of NZ Skeptics.

 

Election denialism

In recent weeks we’ve reported several times on election outcomes – and, of course the recent US election continues to dominate the news. Far from it being over with a clear victory for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Trump continues to deny the outcome and fight against it in every way possible.

Judged from our privileged position here in NZ it all seems a bit comical at times. But there’s a very serious side to it. The strategy as it’s playing out is one familiar to observers of science denial – sowing the seeds of doubt. Claims of election fraud and the legal cases being run through the courts (and largely dismissed and laughed out of court) have a corrosive effect on trust in the process. 

What is being alleged is widespread voter fraud, though no reasonable explanation is being offered as to how this could have been accomplished, how it could be engineered so as to rig the election, and importantly whether there’s any actual evidence of this occurring. It certainly illustrates the importance of critical thinking, but unfortunately many people go with their gut feelings instead.

Continuing COVID

The world continues to be gripped by the COVID pandemic. Given that most of us are unable to travel internationally it’s difficult to experience first-hand exactly how the rest of the world is operating. Cases continue to rise at an alarming rate. My favourite site for watching the stats is the Worldometers site

I don’t want to continually bash the USA, but it does seem that those countries where large chunks of the population value their personal freedom over the safety of others are faring (and now fearing) the worst. As I write this the daily new case count in the US has exceeded 200K cases, with around 2K deaths.This really does illustrate the quote from Joseph Stalin: “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

Vaccines on the horizon

This past week has seen the news of development of successful vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The vaccines have a claimed efficacy of nearly 95%. This is good news, and a triumph for science and medical technology that they’ve been able to be developed so quickly. There are other companies that have vaccines in the pipeline so it’s likely that there will be several more vaccines available in the coming months and years.

But the availability of vaccines doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the pandemic. While it’s great news that the efficacy is so high – which will contribute to a successful “herd immunity” effect – at this stage the performance of the vaccines in “real world” populations is unknown. For example, the vaccines have been tested on mostly young people – it’s not known how well they will work on older (and typically more susceptible) population groups. Also unknown is how long immunity will last. Will we need to get an annual booster shot?

And they have to be distributed and delivered. The newly developed vaccines have some fairly stringent temperature requirements around transportation and storage, and of course, all this requires infrastructure and training to be set up to allow vaccines to be successfully deployed.

Feeding into this will also be the inevitable vaccine hesitancy that has become prevalent in recent years in some population groups. Herd Immunity is, of course, reliant on significant penetration of the vaccine into the population. Sean Carrol wrote a great article in Scientific American which draws parallels between various forms of scientific denialism – it’s well worth a read.

While the news of the vaccines is undoubtedly positive I think skepticism is warranted as to whether life is going to return to the pre-COVID normal anytime soon. The advent of the vaccines is just the first step along the path.

A woman of influence!

This week saw Dr Siouxsie Wiles take the supreme winner award at the Stuff-Westpac NZ 2020 Women of Influence Awards.

Siouxsie, along with her artistic partner Toby Morris, has done a fantastic job in communicating the science and best-practise advice around COVID during the pandemic. 

We congratulate Siouxsie for her well-deserved award. We’re very proud to claim Siouxsie as a skeptic – she’s MC’d and spoken at our conferences many times in the past. Well done Siouxsie.

Odd spot of the week

This week Richard Saunders, from the Australian Skeptics pinged me online with a video of relevance to NZ Skeptics. Back in the 1990s Australian journalist Mike Willesee did a piece on a New Zealander Don Brooker who ran a colour therapy clinic in Cambridge, Waikato. 

Brooker was claiming to be able to cure multiple diseases through the use of divining rods and swatches of coloured thread!

The video (available on Richard Saunder’s page) is a fascinating and worrying look into this non-evidence based treatment. 

Many Australians and New Zealanders were being taken in by Brooker. 

A quick Google search revealed that there’s still businesses in existence with direct roots to Booker, still practising the colour therapy. I give you Colour Therapy Manukau! http://www.colourtherapymanukau.co.nz/ How sad that such a business still exists, no doubt taking advantage of gullible (and potentially desperate) people.

And, there seems to be an umbrella site for all things related to this. Oh what a fascinating, if deluded world we live in.

What are you listening to?

My personal journey into skepticism began back in the early 90s before the internet was publicly available, but podcasts now form a significant chunk of the skeptical content that I consume. My particular favourites are The Skeptics Guide to the Universe (a great weekly roundup of science and skepticism), Oh No, Ross and Carrie (weird and often humorous investigations into fringe groups and claims of the paranormal), and Sawbones (fascinating medical history of dubious devices and cures, but firmly science-based). But there are many others, and tastes vary. 

Back in the day, there were some NZ-based skeptical podcasts. Unfortunately these have fallen by the wayside – undoubtedly due to the busyness of the hosts (disclosure: I was one of those hosts). The CUSP and Skepticism Today spring to mind, but there may be others.

As skeptics, we should be trying to spread critical thinking. One of the best ways is to share podcasts with friends and family as part of a gentle introduction (some might say indoctrination!) into thinking more skeptically. What can you share today?

Have a great week, and stay skeptical!

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Skeptic News: A challenge, a denial and a declaration of victory


Skeptic News: A challenge, a denial and a declaration of victory


NZ Skeptics Newsletter

A challenge, a denial and a declaration of victory

It was show weekend here in Canterbury. Another long weekend to squander in the garden and pottering about the house. I’ve also been thinking about why on the Xbox game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla my son chose to stand up for the seemingly uninformed and offended peasant, rather than the man of medicine (aka warlock) who was bemoaning the general distrust in knowledge. Perhaps it was the jaunty animal skull head-piece the warlock was wearing that made him look more like the bad guy, or perhaps it was just the promise of better loot…

Jess Macfarlane

The case of the missing VHS – FOUND!

Good news! We have found someone who has a copy of the video (VHS tape) taken of James Randi speaking at Canterbury University back in 1993. Next steps will be to check if it’s good to digitise, and if so, we’ll look to publish it to our YouTube channel. Keep posted.
 

The Homeopathy Challenge

In Homeopathy news, Edzard Ernst, retired academic physician and specialist in complementary and alternative medicine (and skeptic hero) has created a “challenge for all homeopaths of the world”.  In a similar way to the James Randi Educational Foundation’s one million dollar paranormal challenge, Ernst has come up with a scientific way for homeopaths to “prove” their worth. What entrants need to do is identify the contents of 6 homeopathic solutions that they have chosen, but that have been transferred into containers marked 1 – 6 by a notary and sent back to them.
 
How do they identify which is which? By doing a homeopathic process called a “proving”.

A “proving” is a test where a healthy person (e.g. someone without insomnia), would take that a remedy intended for someone with insomnia (for example one containing Coffea which is caffeine) and then note down their symptoms. Homeopathyeurope.org claims “These responses are temporary and vary from person to person, but the total information has a pattern unique to that substance and is used as the basis of treatment”.

The challenge also says the solutions should be potentised to least 12C, which means diluted to one part in a hundred, 12 times. Homeopaths claim the remedy is more powerful the more the ingredient it is put through the ‘succussion’ process, which is where the ingredient is diluted in alcohol or water, and then shaken to activate its ‘vital energy’.

So, we’ll be keeping an eye on this challenge to see if anyone bites. Share the challenge – we wouldn’t want any New Zealand homeopaths to miss out on the fun.

Car makers’ climate denial

Climate change denial is a big topic among skeptics. It is the NZ Skeptics Society view that the science is in, burning fossil fuels and releasing the carbon captured in those fuels into the atmosphere is causing the climate to change, it is a crisis, and we need to act. #StopBurningStuff

You probably already heard that Exxon knew about climate change back in the 70s and 80s, and chose to double down on the misinformation, but now, as an EV driver myself I was interested to learn the latest news to come out about climate change denial relating to big Auto, specifically Ford and GM. In the first part of an investigation by E&E News, we find out that the automakers were well aware that car emissions caused climate change 50 years ago. Their own scientists were telling top executives that emissions from the vehicles they were producing would lead to climate change.

Rather than do something at the time to mitigate the problem, or even do nothing and remain silent, they chose to donate money to think tanks promoting climate denial. They also joined the ‘Global Climate Coalition’ which was an organisation created to fight against attempts to reduce carbon emissions.
 

and the fake cancer cure

I’ve been binging on Netflix again and am looking forward to the next series of Ratched, a psychological thriller based on a character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a book by Ken Kesey. Be warned, the fashions may be fabulous, but the skull crunching gore is pretty grim.

Skeptics may be interested to know, that in a sad turn of events, one character in the series learns she has cancer, and decides to try a new remedy based on mistletoe at a clinic in Mexico. A Christchurch woman with cancer was reported to have looked into receiving similar alternative care at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, however the price tag seemed too high. Skeptics should know that it was Rudolph Steiner who came up with the idea for this supposed cancer cure made from mistletoe, based on the concept of like cures like. It was thought that because mistletoe grows on trees like a parasite, and eventually could kill the tree, that taking it as a remedy would cure cancer which grows on a human host in a similar way, like a parasite.

Edzard Ernst has done extensive research, looking at the rigor of multiple studies, finding most were not reliable, and came to the conclusion that there is no good evidence to support its use, and again, it’s a very expensive treatment aimed at vulnerable people based on false hope. Delaying effective treatment can cause real harm. Let’s hope, for the sake of cancer patients out there that the next series of Ratched exposes this money-making scam for what it is.

NZ Skeptics is hereby the most skeptical society

On 6th November this year, after the US president used the word ‘hereby’ to claim, without any evidence whatsoever, that he had won the state of Michigan in the US election, NZ Skeptics thought, to heck with empirical data, hereby is a magical word, how can we exploit its power?! The answer, a boldly worded tweet by @NZSkeptics: “I hereby declare the NZ Skeptics Society is the most skeptical society”.

The tweet was sent to a number of different skeptics societies around the world, to keep them in the loop about the new pecking order.

The Edinburgh Skeptics replied saying “New what? Never heard of you. It’s an obvious fake name. Zeal land? C’mon.”

To which we replied, in a reference to map-gate, “Ha ha ha ha ha. You may not find us on the map, we may not exist, but we still won.”

Skeptical Inquirer replied saying “We doubt it”, a tweet inexplicably liked by nearly a half-dozen random tweeters so far, and the wonderful Brian Dunning of Skeptoid podcast fame replied to say “Skeptics? So you’re the people think 9/11 was an inside job and global warming was a hoax?”.

We couldn’t let that go without comment so replied “Actually we’re just skeptical of marmite sandwiches. Thinking face emoji. Wow, that election there Brian. Kia kaha. I’ll just leave some snaps here of the day we supported a march in Christchurch for #ClimateAction That day was our 9/11, but with white supremacist terrorism instead. #March15

The subsequent tweets consisted of our @NZSkeptics and @BrianDunning bonding over a mutual appreciation of vegemite and cheese toasties.
 

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Skeptic News: Elections, ghosts and cranks


Skeptic News: Elections, ghosts and cranks


NZ Skeptics Newsletter

Elections, ghosts and cranks

Another newsletter, another election. This time the US appears to have, narrowly, come to its senses and chosen to vote out their current science-denying leader – and my guess is that most skeptics are breathing a sigh of relief. Those of us at Wellington Skeptics in the Pub on Friday certainly did a thorough job of dissecting the election, along with its many rules, regulations, polls, predictions and polemics.

I for one am feeling a modicum of schadenfreude having learned today that Rudy Giuliani’s team appear to have messed up when booking a venue for a press release to talk about Trump’s plans to mount a legal challenge to Biden’s win on Saturday. Instead of booking the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia, someone instead booked the car park at the back of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping company. Good on them for sticking with it, though, as it made my day to see Giuliani speaking in front of a garage door in the middle of an industrial estate.


 

Anyway, without any further ado here’s some of what’s been happening of skeptical interest in the world in the last week.

Mark Honeychurch.

WWG1WGA

I’m sure most skeptics will have heard of QAnon by now – the anonymously named Q who posts online about shadowy organisations, and talks about how president Trump is fighting dark forces in the US. QAnon tends to use lots of code names and obscure references, including the oft used acronym used as the title of this section – it means Where We Go 1, We Go All. Here are a couple of examples of QAnon messages:

@Snowden
Twitter rec 24D.
Bravo-2gKVT.
[24]RR

 

Why is Hussein traveling the globe?
$$$,$$$,$$$
Acct # xx-XXXxx-x-39670
Acct # XXXxx-XXXx-2391
Where did the MONEY come from?
How do you destroy the most POWERFUL country in the world?
Direct attack?
Covert OP by [CLAS-59#241-Q] to infiltrate at highest level to destroy from within?
Think GAME.
Who are the PLAYERS?
What are the REWARDS?
AMERICA FOR SALE.
PATRIOTS in FULL CONTROL.
We will make more public.
SA was strategic.
“We know” “Do as we say or face consequences”
These people are stupid!

 

Early on in the Q timeline, an IT security analyst performed an analysis of the codes Q uses, and found that they were consistent with someone just alternating tapping keys on the left and right sides of the keyboard, much as someone would do if they were just trying to type in random text (see the heatmap image below). QAnon’s ramblings remind me of the writing of Nostradamus – obscure and vague enough that readers are left to join the dots themselves, and make their own narrative out of the mess he writes.

 

However the influence of Q’s rabbit hole shouldn’t be underestimated – it’s even reached our fair shores, with a conspiracy involving the trafficking of children, a secret Antarctic base, adrenochrome and several yachts docked in the Viaduct in Auckland. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a firm believer in the QAnon conspiracy, won the nomination for Georgia’s 14th congressional district – so as of January there will be a QAnon believing conspiracy theorist in American politics (although Trump has at least flirted with the idea that QAnon is real, refusing to disavow the theory).

Weirdly, and thankfully, since election day in the US QAnon has gone quiet on the internet. We can only hope that this is the end of Q, although it’s early days yet and I suspect we’ll be hearing from them again. It would not surprise me to see Q, whoever they may be, try to foment unrest among Trump supporters who are unhappy with the election result.

Can a jade amulet protect against COVID?

The above title is my paraphrasing of a recent paper published in an Elsevier-owned scientific journal, Science of The Total Environment. The paper’s actual title is:

Can Traditional Chinese Medicine provide insights into controlling the COVID-19 pandemic: Serpentinization-induced lithospheric long-wavelength magnetic anomalies in Proterozoic bedrocks in a weakened geomagnetic field mediate the aberrant transformation of biogenic molecules in COVID-19 via magnetic catalysis

If I were being trite, I’d simply counter this by invoking Betteridge’s law of headlines – “any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no”. Unsurprisingly this paper is total nonsense, and it’s disappointing to see that it’s been both peer reviewed and published. More details of this paper can be read at Retraction Watch – and the title of that website gives you a hint as to what’s happened to the paper. It’s been withdrawn, at least temporarily, and the paper’s title now has a prefix prepended to it – TEMPORARY REMOVAL.

If you take 10 minutes to read both the Retraction Watch article and some good detective work that has been going on in the article’s comments, it becomes clear that this is not a one-off slip up for the paper’s author – it appears that he has a history of writing pseudoscientific papers, such as:

Stonehenge as a public health intervention device for preventing lithospheric magnetic field-induced emerging diseases and megadeath during periods of severely weaken geomagnetic field

A novel hypothesis for the Havana and Dominican Republic syndromes in which severe geoelectromagnetic perturbations in the Caribbean plate induces aberrant health in North Americans

In the author’s defence, he replied to Retraction Watch’s concerns, saying:

I kindly suggest you read the article and examine the evidence provided. I also suggest you read the history of science and how zealots have consistently attempted to block and ridicule novel ideas that challenge the predominant paradigm from individuals that are deem not intelligent enough. I not surprised that this article has elicited angry responses. Clearly the idea that a black scientist can provide a paradigm shifting idea offends a lot of individuals. I’ll be very candid with you; my skin color has no bearing on my intelligence.

I’m pretty sure that Ivan at Retraction Watch didn’t know that Moses was black when he asked for confirmation that Moses was the author of the paper, and to me the argument of zealots blocking and ridiculing novel ideas sounds like the Galileo Gambit. It may well be the case that in the past some have mocked people who have had paradigm shifting ideas that eventually turn out to be correct, but that does not mean that everyone with a crazy idea is right. For every Galileo there are a thousand or more people like Deepak Chopra, Ken Ring, Andrea Rossi, Daryl Bem, Rupert Sheldrake, Christopher Monckton, and so on – the list goes on!

Haunted NZ

Last week Craig promised that we would give you a link to a video Haunted NZ were producing about their recent investigation at a house in Pukekohe. We have now been sent a copy of the video that you can watch on YouTube. Craig also gave a good account to the NZ Herald of why the video, although slickly put together, contains no substantive evidence backing up Haunted NZ’s claims that the house was ever haunted. Good work Craig!

NZ’s Luminate Festival is moving away from reality

The Luminate festival, held each year outside of Nelson, has always been a little out of touch with science. But, as David Farrier shows, things appear to be getting worse. The festival has been flirting with conspiracy theories and woo peddlers, in a list they published on the Luminate website called the “13 Crystal Seeds of Positive Change”. The list included the names of people who have inspired the festival’s organisers. You get one point for each of the following names you recognise:

  • Pete Evans – celebrity chef, peddler of bad food ideas
  • David Icke – lizard man
  • Rashid Buttar – friend of Billy TK, US osteopath and vaccine denier
  • Bruce Lipton – DNA denier
  • Tom Cowan – 5G conspiracy theorist
  • Dave Asprey – supplement seller
  • Gerald Pollack – structure of water scientist, winner of Emoto prize
  • Zach Bush – gut supplement seller

Each of those people is dangerous in their own ways, mostly through promoting conspiracies or recommending/selling unproven medical therapies. The organisers of the Luminate festival appear to have taken the list down for now, presumably in response to backlash from the article, and have replaced it with a blog post defending their choice of mentors. They say, in part:

“Our theme for Lunasa is bio-optimise and thrive- enhancing our internal biology, our external environment and power of the mind to achieve optimal health.

The people that we listed under the themes of the 13 Crystal Seeds are a range of doctors, scientists, researchers and others that we hear speak directly on these topics.”

I can assure the organisers that the “power of the mind” will not allow them to achieve optimal health, and that most, if not all, of the people they have listed come under the category of “others” and are not actual, trustworthy doctors, scientists or researchers.

David Farrier in his article wonders whether, much like Billy TK, one or both of the organisers of the festival went down the online conspiracy theory rabbit hole over our lockdown period, when they were stuck at home and at a loose end. Although this appears to be guesswork, it at least seems plausible.

Not everyone loved Randi

If the US election hasn’t caused you enough stress, you could read a recent “take down” of James Randi titled The man who destroyed skepticism, published soon after his death on the popular Boing Boing blog, that is sure to make your blood boil. I for one was very surprised and disappointed to see the Boing Boing website, which normally has a reputation for good quality reporting, hosting this hit piece written by Mitch Horowitz. Mitch is a believer in the spiritual realm, and his own website describes him as “a historian of alternative spirituality and one of today’s most literate voices of esoterica, mysticism, and the occult”. The article includes such gems as:

“In the end, the feted researcher was no skeptic. He was to skepticism what Senator Joseph McCarthy was to anticommunism — a showman, a bully, and, ultimately, the very thing he claimed to fight against: a fraud.”

“Randi’s legacy should serve as a cautionary tale and a call to restore sound practices when discussing or writing about contentious topics in science or any field”

The thrust of Horowitz’s argument seems to be that Randi wasn’t polite enough when debunking fraudsters, and that sometimes he preferred using witty soundbites when talking with the media rather than using more nuanced, and technically correct, wording.

From my perspective, it looks like Randi treated these people, who were attempting to con others out of their money and trick them into believing in nonsense, with all the respect they deserved – not much. Anyone trying to make a claim that purports to invalidate swathes of known science is lucky that people like Randi even give them the time to critique their outlandish claims. It’s certainly often the case that scientists don’t have the time or patience to carry out the kinds of investigations that Randi was famous for.

Thankfully the comments from regular Boing Boing readers attached to the article restored my faith in humanity. The vast majority of commenters took exception to the extremely biased nature of the article, and just how much it misrepresented James Randi’s legacy.
 

The Missing Files: Randi caught on tape

The NZ Skeptics, many years ago, used to run a VHS lending library of tapes with topics of skeptical interest on them. Unfortunately, when someone checked the box of dusty old tapes the other day, it was found that the tape of James Randi’s talk given in Christchurch in the ‘90s was not among them. This is a bit of a long shot, but if anyone still has that tape (or their own copy of the talk on video) we’d love to get our hands on it so that we can digitise it and post it to YouTube.

NZ Skeptics AGM

A reminder that our AGM will be held online at the beginning of next month, on the 6th of December, at 7pm.
To connect to our meeting, if you are a member of the Society, please use the following link:

https://meet.google.com/egm-afct-ysi

If you’re not currently a member, please join our Society (at https://skeptics.nz/join) – and then join us at our AGM.

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Available for a limited time – buy now!


Available for a limited time – buy now!


NZ Skeptics has arranged some great merchandise available for a limited time!


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Hi <<First Name>>

Got any ideas for Christmas gifts this year? No, me either! What about a little something for yourself?

Well NZ Skeptics has a great deal for you. In conjunction with Smashing Promotions, we’ve put together a bunch of NZ Skeptics themed products available for a very limited time. We’d love you to take a look and put in an order for something that takes your fancy. They make great gifts for your skeptical and not-so-skeptical friends and family, or just for yourself.

The merchandise works on a bulk order approach – so we need to get a bunch of orders done fairly quickly then our supplier can place the order and deliver. We can keep the store open only until 11th November, so it’s important you act fast!

Here’s a small selection of the great items you can find on the site:

You can visit our store by using the Shop link on our website or going directly to the store.

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Notice of Annual General Meeting – 6th Dec 2020 – 7pm online


Notice of Annual General Meeting – 6th Dec 2020 – 7pm online


This email is notice of the NZ Skeptics Annual General Meeting


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Hi <<First Name>>

NZ Skeptics will be holding its Annual General Meeting for 2020 online on Sunday December 6th at 7:30pm. 

The URL to attend the meeting is: https://meet.google.com/egm-afct-ysi

If you cannot attend the meeting and wish to vote by proxy, please contact the Secretary to arrange a proxy vote form.

We hope to see you at the AGM.

Best regards,
Craig Shearer,
Chair, NZ Skeptics Inc.

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Skeptic News: RIP Randi, hauntings and big cats


Skeptic News: RIP Randi, hauntings and big cats


Sad news of the passing of James Randi.

NZ Skeptics Newsletter

 

Randi, hauntings, and more…

Hello fellow skeptic – and welcome to November. For me, this year has both shot by and dragged. And what a tumultuous year it’s been!

Randi
This week saw the passing of James Randi (aged 92), a noted Canadian-American magician and skeptic. Most of us in the skeptic movement will be aware of the major contributions he made and in his popularisation of skepticism itself. He certainly called out many con-artists who made their livings out of fooling the public. People such as Sylvia Browne (purported psychic medium), Uri Geller (spoon bender), and Peter Popoff (faith healer) were targets of his debunking activities.

Randi, through his educational foundation (The James Randi Educational Foundation) also set up the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (now terminated), which has been a powerful device against those who claim to have paranormal abilities but never seem to be able to produce the goods when actually tested.

Randi visited New Zealand, lecturing at Canterbury University back in 1993, and no doubt spurred many people to join NZ Skeptics at the time. We are on the hunt for the original videos of the presentation,and intend to get them up onto our YouTube channel in due course.

As skeptics we should question hero figures (and indeed the concept of heroes). No person is without their flaws. Randi had doubts about climate change (though updated his position), and was less than critical about some bad actors in our movement. But, Randi was a product of his age. There have been plenty of obituaries praising Randi, but it’s interesting to read the opinions of his critics too. From what I’ve read, many take a tone of broadly praising his work but taking issue with a particular sacred cow of their own.

On the whole, Randi encouraged critical thinking and, I think, had a positive effect on the world.

Haunting continuation

NZ Skeptics was recently approached for comment on the bizarre story of a purported haunted house in Pukekohe, Auckland. The story was amusingly written up in the New Zealand Herald. 

Haunted NZ, an organisation that investigates haunted houses, contacted NZ Skeptics, challenging us to spend a night at a purported haunted location. I wrote about this on our website. Unfortunately the planned visit didn’t happen – the proposed venue doesn’t actually allow overnight visitors!

It seemed that the story had run its course, but I was contacted again on Friday by the NZ Herald journalist, saying they’d had some further communication with Haunted NZ. Allegedly, the spiritual entities have now been ejected from the house by their ritual, but are now haunting the outside of the house but won’t come back inside. I was told that a karaoke party was crashed by a ghost – though how this would work I’m not sure.

The NZ Herald journalist was to be sent a video from Haunted NZ that would show proof of the “goings on”. Unfortunately, this has failed to materialise as of this writing. STOP PRESS – apparently the video is still being produced and edited down. We’ll provide a link so all can see if and when it actually arrives!

I’m a little suspicious of the timing of this being around Halloween. It seems like a good publicity stunt for Haunted NZ. On the other hand, perhaps spiritual entities do exist, and Halloween is their peak season for activity! 🙂

Big cats in Canterbury

This week saw another claim of a big cat in Canterbury. And by “big cat” I’m not talking about an over-sized domestic feline, but a real wild animal variety big cat – such as a Puma or Black Panther or Tiger. Over the years there have been several claims of anomalous wildlife, including Moas and Mooses. 

It seems unlikely that a population of large wild animals could exist and not be discovered by the scientific community. We should seek more prosaic explanations until evidence shows otherwise. According to experts, it’s quite possible that well-fed feral cats can grow to quite a large size. From a distance, it’s easy to mistake the actual size of an animal. 

The evidence we have so far is mostly anecdotal or distant grainy photographs where it’s difficult to determine actual scale. For these cats to be real would require a breeding population. Most big cats are endangered species in other parts of the world. It seems particularly unlikely that a population would be able to establish itself here and without the widespread notice of people.

Election prediction/science

It will no doubt not have escaped your notice that this is the week of the US Presidential Election, pitting the incumbent Trump and Pence, against Biden and Harris. I don’t think it’s going too far out on a political limb to state that, as skeptics, we should be hoping for the candidate that respects and follows science and listens to experts will actually win.

Trump is certainly the anti-science candidate. His administration’s response to COVID is evidence of that. But then there’s the climate change denial (which is arguably an even bigger existential threat), as well as dozens of other examples of ignoring experts. I liken his penchant for rolling back regulations as akin to somebody trying to dismantle a live bomb by cutting random wires. 

But it’s not a done deal – while Biden is leading in the polls, the outcome is far from certain at this stage. The US election reminds me of a scientific experiment. The Republican Party seems to be doing all it can to bias that experiment in its favour. From measures like making it hard for people to vote, to voter intimidation, to legal challenges as to up to when or whether votes can be counted – all of these measures introduce bias into the result. We can be very thankful that we have a much more transparent system of voting here in New Zealand, and one where there’s a sense of fairness in that everybody who wants to vote should be able to. 

I recall thinking back in 2016 after Trump’s unexpected win that it might not be so bad. That he would be surrounded by people that would moderate his worst impulses. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

This week is going to be very interesting. My opinion is that Biden will prevail, unless all of the dirty tricks and manipulation going on by Trump’s side manages to bias things so far as to upset the result.

NZ Skeptics Merchandise

Have you visited the refreshed and redesigned NZ Skeptics website yet? You certainly should – it’s got a nice, clean design, done by Weka Web DesignAnd now, we’ve got some great NZ Skeptics branded merchandise for sale. Take a look at our special merchandise pageThere you’ll find some fun items which you can use to advertise your skeptical mindset.

We think these items would also make great Christmas gifts for the skeptical and not so skeptical people in your life.

Feedback

We hope you’re enjoying our newsletters. There’s a team of three of us taking turns in writing the newsletter, and you’ll probably find that each of us has a different style of writing and a different set of opinions and values that seep into our writing. We hope you welcome this diversity of thought.

The committee of NZ Skeptics is always interested in hearing feedback from our readers. If you’ve got anything to say, or would like to contribute or help out, please get in touch by emailing us.

Have a great week!

Craig Shearer,
Chair, NZ Skeptics Inc.

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Skeptic News: Conversion “therapy” out, free expression under attack


Skeptic News: Conversion “therapy” out, free expression under attack


With Labour in, conversion “therapy” is on the way out, we are saddened by the passing of James Randi, and reflect on the murder of Samuel Paty.

NZ Skeptics Newsletter

Conversion therapy on the way out, The Amazing Randi trolling psychics, and terrorism in France.

The NZ Skeptics newsletter email, out to you after Labour day. Have you planted your tomatoes yet? Keeping you up to date with the latest skeptical news from around New Zealand and overseas.

NZ Skeptics have been organising some exciting merch! Keep your eyes open for news soon about how you can get your hands on NZ Skeptics t-shirts, tea-towels and more…

Auckland University Professor Richard Easther @REasther tweeted “DO. NOT. STOP. USING. THE. DAMN APP.” In response to statistics showing a marked decline in New Zealanders using the government’s Covid tracer app. It seems people’s ability to understand threats is great if it involves a large creature with teeth, but not so great if it involves an invisible virus. Skeptics should follow the science, and the science is telling us we need to retain good contact tracing practices or any new outbreak will be harder to track and contain. I for one have been using that damn app.
We found many people being highly skeptical of Facebook after it’s move to ban anti-vaccination ads and QANON groups, meanwhile, they remain lurking down the rabbit hole over on YouTube.

Jacinda Ardern can now move to ban conversion therapy and reform gender law. She had promised to do so, provided she had the numbers in parliament. Now the people have given Labour the numbers, there will be nothing stopping this coming into force. This is great news for the LGBT+ community and anyone who cares about human rights. Conversion therapy is an idea promoted by religion. It does not work and is cruel psychological torture, based on the misguided idea that you can pray the gay away. Forcing people to pretend to be who they are not to pass for what is acceptable by their community hurts them. I feel strongly that it is the community who needs to change and learn to accept everyone for who they are.

Mediawatch reported that the broadcasting watchdog upheld a complaint about misleading COVID-19 claims by ZB’s Mike Hosking. It wasn’t the only time he misread the stats and misled his listeners. If you can stand listening to Mr. Hosking, well, wow. Let’s just say I’d rather watch Uri Geller bend spoons all day long.
The work Ken Ring Weather Check @RingCheck does on twitter impresses me, so I’d like to throw some love their way. With persistence and attention to detail @RingCheck picks apart the random dross Ken Ring throws our way disguised as insightful and spiritually guided premonitions about weather and earthquakes. In a recent tweet @RingCheck said “Astrology has abandoned Ken in Australia now. The whole continent seems to be oblivious to the transit of Uranus through Scorpio. Must have slipped into another dimension using the “astrological energy grid of the constellations”. So, if you like a good debunking, bring your popcorn and enjoy.
The Spinoff published an article by Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris about how to bridge the gap with someone who’s been pulled in by disinformation. This is the story of people calming down and listening, rather than point scoring and repeating facts at the other person. Kindness is the key to changing someone’s mind.

Excited about:
Tim Caufield’s new book ‘Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety’ Caufield says that too often “decisions are dictated by concerns or beliefs about our world that simply aren’t true”. True that.

After the very sad news of The Amazing Randi’s passing, The Onion let us know he is already bothering psychics from beyond the grave. We would expect nothing less. Also, ha ha ha ha ha ha!
On a New Zealand tour back in 1993 he gave a lecture at Canturbury University. Were you there? Do let us know!
This writer’s other half was lucky enough to have attended the lecture, as he was studying at Canterbury at the time. It turns out NZ Skeptics actually had recordings of the event, on VHS, and were mailing them out to people on request. On learning this we’ve begun an investigation to see if we can find a copy of the recording and from there see if it’s possible to get it into some type of form that would be publishable online. I’m very curious to see it, and to see if my now husband, who would have been just 18 at the time might have been captured on camera too. Watch this space.

According to issue 29 of New Zealand Skeptic James Randi’s talks were so well received, NZ Skeptics received a bump in membership and had the best attended conference up till that point. We were also very excited that he came to thank us in person for our small contribution to his efforts to fight a legal battle with Uri Geller. The case was brought by Geller who was offended to the tune of a cool 15 million dollars, by Randi’s suggestion that Geller’s tricks were “the kind that used to be on the back of serial boxes when I was a kid”. The court sided with Randi, and Geller was made to pay 120,000 in fees.

I’d like to finish with some words about the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty. His life was taken because some cowardly people felt so offended, and justified, they thought it was acceptable to end someone’s life. Being offended is ok. You can get over those feelings. They are just feelings. Your ideas are not you. Unfortunately, religion has a way of making you conflate your sense of self with your beliefs, so that some people feel justified to do extraordinarily grotesque things, even killing. Disagreeing with someone’s views is ok. Killing someone to protect ideas is terrorism.
After the events, the hastag #JeSuisProf started trending. From NZ Skeptics, #JeSuisProf.

Back in March 2019 white supremacist terrorism had hit us all hard and we stood together with the hashtag #TheyAreUs. White New Zealanders were forced to recognise the role we all play in the passive acceptance of racism in New Zealand, a foundation of lies and injustice that supports white supremacist terrorism, and the ongoing everyday racism that continues to injure so many with a thousand tiny cuts. Unfortunately, the ideology of white supremacy has a way of making you conflate your sense of self with your beliefs, so that some people feel justified to do extraordinarily grotesque things, even killing. Disagreeing with someone’s views is ok. Killing someone to protect your ideas is terrorism.

Now in October 2020 we stand with Mr. Paty’s family, friends and colleagues, everyone who was impacted by his death. Everyone who wants to talk honestly about controversial issues, for they should not have to fear doing so. Free expression is important and must be protected.

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NZ Skeptics Member Update


NZ Skeptics Member Update


An update about your NZ Skeptics membership


Dear member

What a year 2020 has been! Obviously unprecedented in many ways. We find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic and lucky to find ourselves in a country which has sensibly listened to scientists and other experts. What a contrast we’ve seen between countries that have respected the science and those whose leaders have ignored it, taking a fairly cavalier attitude to the risks and dangers the virus presents.

We have some major changes coming up with the NZ Skeptics Society. 

Firstly, we trust that you’ve enjoyed receiving New Zealand Skeptic, the quarterly journal of NZ Skeptics Inc. The journal has been published for many years, but we’ve now taken the hard decision to stop publishing it. The Autumn 2020 issue, number 130 was our last issue.

The committee of NZ Skeptics has decided that the journal has “had its day” and to move to publishing more timely, online content, more frequently. Our plans are to publish a short regular newsletter (generally weekly, but sometimes life gets in the way), delivered via email, and to have more articles and blog-style pieces on our website. If you’re signed up to the alerts mailing list, you should have received this by now.

We hope you’ll find the new online-based content useful. We plan to cover New Zealand/Aotearoa-related content from a skeptical and science-related perspective. 

Delivering in email form will allow us to keep our members informed more frequently and hopefully encourage engagement and participation. It will also be more easily shareable with others who might not otherwise be exposed to a skeptical perspective on things. To that end, we’re going to be delivering the newsletter to anybody who’s signed up to the mailing list, not just members of the society. We see this as a way of spreading our message to a wider audience than just society membership would allow.

We’ve had some regular contributors to the journal over the years, and we hope to retain their voices, albeit in a slightly altered format. If you’re interested in writing content, we’d love to have you get in touch. Please contact us at [email protected] if you’d be interested in this. 

Speaking of the website, we’ve now refreshed the look, giving it a more modern feel, thanks to our committee member Amy, from Weka Web Design. Please make sure you check it out. We plan on adding more content and a special members’ only area in the near future.

As you’re probably aware, we normally run an annual conference. Last year’s in Christchurch was a stunning success. We had planned on running one this year in Wellington… then COVID hit. Then we planned on running an online conference, but, stressful as this year was, we could not pull things together in time. So, we have decided to forgo the conference this year, and plan on running an in-person one next year, on the assumption that things will be much more under control with the pandemic, hopefully with a vaccine in place. Things, we hope, will look very different in twelve months.

Finally, we’ve a couple of other items we think will be of interest to members. 

We’re currently setting up a page on the website where you’ll be able to order various NZ Skeptics merchandise – such as T-shirts, coffee mugs, tea towels and a few other specialty items. These items would make perfect Christmas gifts for the skeptical and not so skeptical amongst us.

Secondly, watch out in your physical mailbox in the next few weeks for a special item from us. We’re not revealing what this is yet, but we think you’ll like it.

As a committee we are interested in feedback on our decisions. If you’ve anything you’d like to let us know about, please contact us at the committee email: [email protected].

Best regards,
Craig Shearer
Chair, NZ Skeptics Inc.

 

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Edward Linney – Pharmacy Council Code of Ethics Consultation Response

Submission relating to proposals by the Pharmacy Council to alter Clause 6.9 of the code of Ethics

I am Edward Linney a consumer with an active interest in evidence based medicine.

I do not support the intent of clause 6.9b to avoid a requirement of credible evidence of efficacy for complementary therapy or other healthcare products.

Extract from consultation document

Proposed supplementary wording – two distinct parts – clause 6.9

6.9a     “Only supply or promote any medicine or herbal remedy where there is no reason to doubt its quality or safety and when there is credible evidence of efficacy.”

 

6.9b     “Only supply any complementary therapy or other healthcare product where there is no reason to doubt its quality or safety and when sufficient information about the product can be provided in order for thepurchaser to make an informed choice with regard to the risks and benefits of all the available treatment options.”

 

The addition of 6.9b explicitly avoids any requirement for there to be credible evidence of efficacy. It moves the roles of evaluation of scientific evidence from the scientists to the consumer. This is bizarre, we all understand that the patient purchasing the homeopathic remedy for example is a believer and is most unlikely to be able to make an informed decision in the complex task of selecting the best products to treat themselves with.

Pharmacies are businesses BUT they are run by scientifically qualified people and they trade on this image. They are the only place where the public can purchase prescribed pharmaceuticals. Pharmacists enjoy a very privileged position in that regard. In my view the public expects you to sell and promote products which are shown in appropriate testing to perform better than a placebo, in short evidence based products.

The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia ( The Government if you will) published an unqualified opinion in March 2015 after wide public consultation and a meta analysis of many trials that homeopathy is no more effective than placebo in treating humans. It comes as no surprise to me that when the credibility of these products which are actively promoted and sold in all my local pharmacies is vanishing that the Council proposed to avoid the requirement for efficacy in the sale of these to the public by pharmacies.

I believe there is a connection between the growing awareness that homeopathic remedies are placebos and the intention to explicitly avoid efficacy in the code of ethics in relation to their sale in pharmacies. It is a business protection step taken now to ensure that members of the public cannot take pharmacies to task for breaches of their code of ethics.

I submit it is totally unethical for the Council to put in place a provision whereby a scientifically trained seller uses that credibility to then sell known placebos as if they have efficacy. It is a betrayal of the science that trained them and a cynical exploitation of their status as health professionals. I wonder if pharmacists will have a warning label on these products which states they have NO active ingredients and they are no more effective than placebos. Perhaps the Council, if it wishes to see pharmacists selling these products should insist on a step like this, that would be the truth and assist the informed choice you are advocating. It was not so long ago that the pharmacies used to say “the health professional you see most often”, sadly you cannot make this claim today given current practice in selling known placebos.

It is telling that the consultation document suggests not promoting or recommending products which lack efficacy but is unwilling to take the ethical step of including efficacy explicitly in the code. It is simply duplicitous and puts commercial gain ahead of evidence based operations in patient and public outcomes.

The Council should retain the requirement at all times when selling products that claim to assist medical situations that there MUST be credible evidence of efficacy. Not to do so is in breach of the duty of Council to promote good practice and protect the public by being complicit in the public opting for remedies which are placebos and thereby not using genuinely efficacious products that have been proven by proper trials. The patient outcomes are likely worsened if a placebo is used in place of the best treatment.

Pharmacies seek to be taken seriously and want to expand on their offering in the evidence based market by adding things like Wharferin testing for example. They cannot have it both ways they are either just a peddler of anything the public wants or are serious health professionals. Your decisions in this matter will answer that question.

Edward Linney

Skeptical Thoughts on the Radio!

Mark HoneychurchGraeme Hill’s Weekend Variety Wireless radio show on RadioLive is a Sunday night fixture where two prominent skeptics, Siouxsie Wiles and Mark Honeychurch chat about current skeptical topics and events.

Skeptical Thoughts

Graeme HillOur current chair, Mark Honeychurch, has been filling in for Siouxsie Wiles recently on Graeme Hill’s Weekend Variety Wireless show on RadioLive. He’s had fun chatting with Graeme on the Skeptical Thoughts segment, and has talked about rugby injuries, therapeutic paint, the igNobels and the Republican Primary, amongst other topics.

Here are links to the recordings:

Keep an ear out – he may be returning to the radio soon!