Saturday, October 29, 2016

Evidenced-based Medicine

      Dr. Harriet Hall, MD, aka the SkepDoc, is a retired family physician and Air Force Colonel   As a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer, an advisor to the Quackwatch website, and an editor of, she writes about alternative medicine, pseudoscience, quackery, and critical thinking. Her website is

      In her essay Evidence: “It Worked for My Aunt Tillie” Is Not Enough,

      She provides an easy to understand significance of the difference between science-based medicine and evidence-based medicine.  Evidence means different things to different people. Even quacks and their victims claim to have evidence that their treatments work.  Often that was all the evidence some people need. They don't care about scientific evidence because they say, “Science doesn’t know everything.” 
      However, just because science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean they can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to them.  When Oprah Winfrey told Jenny McCarthy that experts said there was no scientific evidence that vaccines caused autism, Jenny retorted, “My science is named Evan, and he’s at home. That’s my science.”

Dr Hall says,
There is no such thing as “alternative medicine.” There is only medicine that has been tested and proven to work and medicine that hasn’t. If a treatment currently considered to be alternative were adequately tested and proven to work, it would be incorporated into mainstream medical practice and could no longer be considered “alternative.” It would become just “medicine.” So-called “alternative” medicine can be defined as medicine that isn’t supported by good enough evidence to earn it a place in mainstream medicine. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Doom Sayers Have a LONG History if Failure

      Here’s a list of predictions made with much fanfare and extensive coverage in the media in the 1970s
  • the population explosion would be unstoppable;
  • global famine would be inevitable;
  • crop yields would fall;
  • a cancer epidemic caused by pesticides would shorten lifespan;
  • the desert would advance at two miles a year;
  • rain forests would disappear;
  • acid rain would destroy forests;
  • oil spills would worsen;
  • oil and gas would run out;
  • and so would copper, zinc, chrome and many other natural resources;
  • the Great Lakes would die;
  • dozens of bird and mammal species would become extinct each year;
  • and a new ice age would begin;
      All of these were extolled in the mainstream media. Not one of them has come even close to meeting the apocalyptic expectations of their promoters. Often it was because the scare was exaggerated.
Later, more predictions of doom:
  • sperm counts would fall;
  • mad cow disease would kill hundreds of thousands of people;
  • genetically modified weeds would devastate ecosystems;
  • nanotechnology would run riot;
  • computers would crash at the dawn of the millennium, bringing down civilization;
  • the hole in the ozone layer would cause blindness and cancer on a huge scale;
Add to these the predictions of Climate Doom
  • malaria was going to get worse because of rising temperatures; it didn’t.
  • snow would become a thing of the past; yet northern hemisphere snow cover shows no trend
  • hurricanes/cyclones would get worse; they haven’t.
  • droughts would get worse; they haven’t
  • the Arctic sea ice would be gone by 2013; it wasn’t.
  • glacier retreat would accelerate; yet more than half the retreat of glaciers happened before 1950.
  • sea level rise would accelerate; it hasn’t
  • the Gulf Stream would falter, as this clip from the movie the Day After Tomorrow latched on to.
All these predictions have also failed so far.
The death toll from droughts, floods and storms has been going down dramatically. Not because weather has got safer, but because of technology and prosperity.

      James Hansen in 1988 said that by the year 2000, “the West Side Highway will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there.” 
      The UNEP predicted in 2005 that by 2010 there would be 50 million climate refugees. In 2010 it tried to delete the web link. 
      Ten years ago, Al Gore said that within ten years we would have reached the point of no return. [Inconvenient truth]

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Universe Made Just for You

Humankind is the center and purpose of creation!  Really?
Using the Hubble Space telescope and other observatories, astronomers have completed the most accurate census of galaxies in the observable universe to date. The observable universe contains 10 to 20 times as many galaxies than previous estimates. That raises the total to about one and two trillion galaxies. Likewise, the new number of stars in the observable universe, which now numbers around 700 thousand billion billion.

It is very difficult to believe that any creator would be that wasteful of real estate such so humans have a pretty night sky. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Explaining Trump

      It is often said that FEAR drives elections, so what's the #1 fear in America?  According to Chapman University's Survey of American Fears, October 11, 2016 it is -- Fear of Corrupt Government Officials.  It exceeds the second highest fear by near 2 to 1.  What is the most common exhalation from Trump other than "Make America Great Again"?  It's Corrupt Hillary Clinton. Read this survey at  

Here is the entire list
FearFear Domain % Afraid or Very Afraid
Corrupt government officials Government 60.6
Terrorist Attack Manmade Disasters 41
Not having enough money for the future Economic 39.9
Terrorism Crime 38.5
Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition Government 38.5
People I love dying Illness and Death 38.1
Economic/financial collapse Economic 37.5
Identity theft Crime 37.1
People I love becoming seriously ill Illness and Death 35.9
The Affordable Health Care Act/Obamacare Government 35.5

Then we have the second mantle for Trumpism - Conspiracies.  Again according to Chapman University

The government is concealing what they know aboutPercent Agree or Strongly Agree
The 9/11 attacks 54.3%
The JFK assassination 49.6%
Alien encounters 42.6%
Global warming 42.1%
Plans for a one world government 32.9%
Obama’s birth certificate 30.2%
The origin of the AIDs virus 30.1%
The death of supreme court justice Antonin Scalia 27.8%
The moon landing 24.2%

Check out Chapman University about other American concerns at 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Climate Fantasy

Typically, we avoid posting opinion pieces but this one is a nice summary of what has been happening in the way of climate change. The Guardian's '100 months to save the planet' was always just a fantasy by Christopher Booker 

He explains that UK politicians remain wholly oblivious to reality. 
The irony is that 2008, when global warming hysteria was still at its height, was the very year when they landed us with the Climate Change Act, committing us to spending hundreds of billions of pounds on “decarbonising” our economy, at a time when other countries, led by China and India, are planning to increase their own “carbon” emissions by far more each year than the UK’s entire annual contribution to the global total. Until that totally insane Act is repealed, we really are heading for national suicide.

Media Bias

      A couple of weeks ago, I engaged in a debate with the producers of Nashville Public Television about bias in reporting. My position was -- it is nearly impossible to be unbiased in reporting. Their position was that they go through great lengths to be unbiased. I opening the discussion with the question, “What is the ratio of Democrats to Republicans on their production staff?” 
     They said that they were not permitted to ask that question. I then said, “How do you know that your reporting is unbiased?’ 
     They said they go through great lengths to follow proper journalistic practices to achieve balance in their reporting. I followed with, "What are your metrics to insure balance. It is human nature to follow stories that interests one; thereby unintentionally interjecting bias in reporting.  They were unconvinced."
      I personally believe that NPT/NPR do the best job of popular media in their attempt to offer both sides of a story, but they are not without bias. They will prioritize that which their staff “believes” is rational over the irrational and that which Is factual over that which is not factual. However, I have friends who argue bias when their pet belief, mostly on the political Right side does get support or worst yet gets reported as wrong.
      In past surveys of staff of the popular media repeatedly show bias although may try to be balanced. Then there is the extreme in terms of bias – Fox News. They aren’t even on a mission to be balance in their reporting. What makes this situation scary is the number of people who actually believe Fox News least attempts to be factual. 
      Here is an interesting op-ed on Fox New from a biased source. “The Foxification of American democracy,” by Shadia Drury in Free Inquiry.