News From Around The Blogosphere 8.20.08

Five hoaxes that fooled the world

Is there a homeopathic remedy for a splinter? – Pseudoscience has gotten so ridiculous it’s really becoming harder to tell the difference between parodies and the real thing. Though reading what it says in the “About Dr. Boli” section, I’m going with parody. But compare that to “real” homeopathy:

The power of Christ compels you…to shut up! – “Promiscuity, as well as homosexuality and pornography, says 73 year-old Fr. Jeremy Davies, is a form of sexual perversion and can lead to demonic possession.”

Pseudolympics – ““Did you know that the distribution of Olympic swimming medallists against the tropical astrological zodiac signs can be almost exactly mapped by a polynomial function of the third degree?” – “Statistician” Kenneth Mitchell

Help Robert Lancaster and Skeptics Unite – A few weeks ago, fellow skeptic Robert Lancaster (who runs the site: Stop Sylvia Browne), suffered from a stroke. He’s recovering but he’s got a lot of hospital bills. Lancaster is such an important figure in the skeptical movement and such a courageous fighter against con artists who prey on the desperate that his fellow skeptics are uniting to raise money to contribute to his recovery. Please donate if you can. For more details, follow the link above.

Remembering the SGU’s Perry DeAngelis on the 1-year anniversary of his passing:

Crap-Based Medicine Red Flags – Steven Novella takes a closer look the “medical” product known as The ReBuilder.

Alabama Judge Orders Court To Join In “Circle of Prayer”
According to the Associated Press the Alabama judge:

“who once wore the Ten Commandments embroidered on his robe has been accused of violating judicial ethics for ordering a group in his courtroom to hold hands and pray.”

In the following video, Susan Savage-Rumbaugh asks whether uniquely human traits, and other animals’ behaviors, are hardwired by species. Then she rolls a video that makes you think: maybe not. The bonobo apes she works with understand spoken English. One follows her instructions to take a cigarette lighter from her pocket and use it to start a fire. Bonobos are shown making tools, drawing symbols to communicate, and playing Pac-Man — all tasks learned just by watching. Maybe it’s not always biology that causes a species to act as it does, she suggests. Maybe it’s cultural exposure to how things are done.

And now for a moment of science:

Biochemists Fine Tune Fruit Flavor Enzymes – “Would you like a lemony watermelon? How about a strawberry-flavored banana? Biochemists at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston say the day may be coming when scientists will be able to fine tune enzymes responsible for flavors in fruits and vegetables. In addition, it could lead to environmentally-friendly pest control.”

Microbes Convert Hydrocarbons To Natural Gas – “When a group of University of Oklahoma researchers began studying the environmental fate of spilt petroleum, a problem that has plagued the energy industry for decades, they did not expect to eventually isolate a community of microorganisms capable of converting hydrocarbons into natural gas.”

New Way To Grow Human Embryonic Stem Cells – “The majority of researchers working with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) – cells which produce any type of specialized adult cells in the human body – use animal-based materials for culturing the cells. But because these materials are animal-based, they could transmit viruses and other pathogens to the hESCs, making the cells unsuitable for medical use. Now, a stem-cell scientist at UC Riverside has devised a method of growing hESCs in the lab that uses no animal-derived materials – an important advance in the use of hESCs for future medical purposes.”


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