Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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QEDcon 2015

As ever, the opening video didn’t disappoint – congratulations to all whose hard work made this tweaked Left Behind trailer funny and so technically impressive:

QED is my Christmas; or, what I imagine Christmas to be like for people who actually enjoy it. My family now is smaller than it was, and we do things our own way, so it’s better – but I’ve never been much of a fan. QEDcon is where I spend time with my chosen family, or most of them at least!

Topping 550 people in its 5th year, it had the same friendly, warm, welcoming and highly intoxicated atmosphere it always has. Continue reading


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Healthy Evidence Forum

AskforEvidenceNHSchoicesSense About Science have launched a new discussion forum today, called Healthy Evidence:

“We are very pleased to tell you that NHS Choices Behind the Headlines have asked us to partner with them on a new online forum to help people understand the science behind health claims and connect them with expertise. Healthy Evidence is launched today. Join the community here.”

The more people that join and share their insights into the science behind health reporting, the better the resource could become. Collating useful sources can help people judge which information is beneficial rather than bogus, and what’s likely or dubious.

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Fish in a barrel

This is a guest post from Ian (@teachingofsci), which I think is a calm demonstration of why so many who try to engage with proponents of alt med end up seriously lacking a feeling of calm.

I have had similar situations in which I’ve tried to converse with otherwise intelligent, rational, friendly people, who have shouted that they will not read anything I ask them to read before we can continue the conversation with a bit more information behind us. If people are unwilling even to look at evidence that might not support their view, what’s the point, really?

Different people have different ways of going about skeptical activism, and advocating rational thinking – often with an ultimate goal of protecting gullible and vulnerable people from those who would profit from their ignorance, and perhaps simultaneously endanger their health. I don’t believe there’s a right way, but sometimes this kind of tactic can prove useful. Enjoy!

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Science Wooseum Revisited

Time for an update on the Science and Art of Medicine – Living Medical Traditions exhibit in the Science Museum, London!

If you’re not familiar with the backstory, do check out these posts or listen to my report in the Pod Delusion live 2nd birthday episode – go, make some tea and a sandwich while it’s on or something 😀

Briefly, we’ve been trying to improve the Science Museum’s alternative medicine exhibit as there were some serious problems with it. It largely came across as promoting alternative treatments, even advertising practitioners and generally being worryingly uncritical, with no reference to the results of reliable studies (i.e. that most of the ‘treatments’ are no better than placebo and many carry serious risks) – and indeed no mention of the wonderous placebo effect at all.

I’ve highlighted some of the original displays and issues in this photo gallery, now with some new photos – though a lot of them are appallingly blurry, apologies – in this new set.

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No Yeo Valley

My brother recently sent me some interesting correspondence he’d had with Yeo Valley reps, due to stumbling across this fairly shocking content on their website:

the routine use of antibiotics as a preventative measure to treat our cows’ ailments is not permitted.

Well yes, good, but…

As a result of this Steve, the Herd Manager on one of our farms began investigating alternative options to the use of antibiotics and began studying a course on homeopathic treatments. Since then, Steve has been implementing what he has learnt by using homeopathic treatments and remedies to treat his cows for a number of issues, including warding-off flies and easing the cows’ stress levels when having their feet clipped.

The treatments have so far proved successful and, unlike with antibiotics, cows don’t build up immunity to these remedies. In fact, they encourage the cows’ immune systems to fight bugs themselves.The use of homeopathic treatments not only helps to develop a more robust immune system, it also means no withdrawal periods for milk and meat while the animal is being treated, as would be the case when antibiotics are used.

Argh. Seriously?! What a load of tosh.

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Complementary Responsibilities

I’ve just stumbled upon this article via the Twitters. It’s a blogpost by the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation about some complementary therapy workshops (by @drshaunholt) in New Zealand.

I just want to take some bits from their post and add my own comments as it’s raised an issue in my mind that maybe isn’t condsidered too often in the various ‘communities’ of relevance; medical, skeptical, patient-centred and so on.

Who has responsibility for complementary therapy education?

That’s the question I’ve been pondering, admittedly since about 10 minutes ago so apologies if this isn’t very well-formed.

The therapists?

An obvious candidate would be the provider of said ‘therapy’. However, since we have the unknown quantity of deliberately misleading, fraudulent individuals who are simply out to make money, it would be unwise to rely on this group.

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‘Living Medical Traditions’

Another update to the Science Wooseum story.

I took some time to document more of the exhibit, which is indeed tucked away on the top floor, sandwiched between two very good (and bigger) displays relating to the development of modern medicine. Some really amazing pieces in there. I’ve made a web album of the photos.

The Living Medical Traditions section is definitely worrying. It has a completely different feel.

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